In terms of material, Paul Atreides’ (Timothée Chalamet) Fremen lover Chani factors into the plot much more in the second half of the book, a template that “Dune: Part Two” is set to follow to a T. But when we return to Zendaya in the sequel, out in the desert of Arrakis, longtime fans will quickly realize that her motivation and sense of agency are much more defined than they ever were in the original book. Admittedly, this was previously teased in various trailers, but the film’s director and cast alike expand on this change much more in Total Film magazine’s new cover story. For his part, Denis Villeneuve goes so far as to say that, “As the movie progresses, there’s a shift in the main character, and Chani becomes my reference as a point of view.” Those are strong words, which Zendaya completely backs up. According to the actor:
“In the book, Chani meets Paul and is like, ‘Alright, this is the guy. I support you.’ Whereas in our film, in no way does she bend how she feels. She’s strong in her convictions. Even when she’s falling in love, she still doesn’t like what [Paul] represents.”
What her young lover represents is, well, troubling, to say the least. Those paying attention should’ve found something off-putting about Paul’s visions of the future revealed towards the end of “Dune,” which hinted toward a calamitous war — with Paul as its figurehead of zealotry. Although this is taken much further in the novel “Dune: Messiah,” the early seeds of this cautionary tale can already be seen in the first movie and, by all accounts, even more in the second film.
“Dune: Part Two” will ride a sandworm into theaters on March 1, 2024.