Dune 2: How does the movie sequel differ from the book?

Timothée Chalamet in Dune 2
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Dune: Part Two sees director Denis Villeneuve adapt the second half of Frank Herbert's sci-fi novel, published in 1965. While the first Dune movie followed its source material fairly closely, the sequel makes a few more changes, particularly around certain characters. 

This is the par for the course with book-to-screen adaptations, especially with a hefty epic like Dune. The novel clocks in at nearly five hundred pages and, even when split into two movies, it's no mean feat to condense the politics and battles of Arrakis into a feature-length film. 

If the length of Herbert's sci-fi tome has put you off reading it, don't worry – we've broken down the key differences between the movie and the book so you can compare and contrast without cracking out your reading glasses. Be warned, though: there are major Dune: Part Two spoilers ahead, so turn back now if you haven't seen the movie and don't want to know what happens! 

How does Dune: Part Two differ from the book?

Dune 2

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Leto II

Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya in Dune: Part Two

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

In the book, the relationship between Paul and Chani progresses much faster and she becomes pregnant with a son after Paul joins the Fremen. Paul names him Leto II after his late father (played by Oscar Isaac in the first movie), who was murdered by House Harkonnen. 

In Dune: Part Two, the pair move at a much slower pace and Chani plays a greater role in the story. "What Denis [Villeneuve] does very well is take the female characters more deeply into consideration," Zendaya, who plays Chani, previously told Total Film. "He was really able to build out a strong sense of [Chani’s] own views and life. It wasn’t entirely like she’s at the will of who she’s in love with."


Anya Taylor-Joy at the Dune 2 premiere

(Image credit: Getty Images/Samir Hussein / Contributor)

While the events of Dune: Part Two are implied to take place over a matter of weeks, two years pass in the novel between Paul and his mother Lady Jessica escaping to the desert and the attack on the Emperor. As Jessica is pregnant when they first arrive in the desert, that means her daughter, Alia, is born in the book. In the movie, we only see Alia as an adult, played by Anya Taylor-Joy, in one of Paul's visions.

Thufir Hawat

Stephen McKinley Henderson in Dune

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Thufir Hawat, the Mentat (i.e. human computer) of House Atreides, is played by Stephen McKinley Henderson in Dune: Part One, but the character doesn't appear in Part Two. However, Hawat has a role to play in the second half of the book. As we saw in Part One, he's blackmailed into working for House Harkonnen after Leto is murdered, but he stays loyal to House Atreides and secretly works against the Baron. In the novel, this involves creating distrust between the Baron and the Emperor to try and undermine their alliance after the Emperor sends spies to Arrakis when he suspects the Baron of trying to create more powerful troops than his own.

Gurney's suspicions

Dune 2

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

When Leto's former aide Gurney Halleck (played by Josh Brolin in the movie) reunites with Paul in the desert, things don't go quite as smoothly in the book as they do in the movie. Gurney believes that Lady Jessica is the traitor who betrayed House Atreides and tries to kill her, but Paul stops him. The real traitor, of course, is the Atreides' Suk doctor, Wellington Yueh.

Water of Life

Rebecca Ferguson in Dune 2

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Paul's two-year stint with the Fremen isn't the only example of time moving more quickly in the movie than in Herbert's novel. After Paul travels to the south of Arrakis and drinks the Water of Life, a powerful bright blue liquid found in the bodies of sandworms that enables ultimate clairvoyance in the Bene Gesserit (and Paul), he lies unconscious for a time – in the movie, that appears to be an hour or so, but in the book he's comatose for three weeks. 

The final battle

Timothée Chalamet and Austin Butler in Dune 2

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The movie and the book both culminate with the arrival of the Emperor's Sardaukar troops on Arrakis. In the film, the Fremen attack on sandworms before Paul storms a meeting between the Emperor and the Baron, where Paul kills the Baron. However, in the book, the Emperor's troops attack a Fremen outpost first and many are killed – including Leto, Paul and Chani's son. Meanwhile, Paul's sister Alia is taken prisoner and taken to the Baron and, in the book, Alia is the one to kill him, allowing her to escape.

Dune: Part Two is in theaters worldwide now. For more, check out the rest of our coverage on the movie:  

Entertainment Writer

I’m an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering everything film and TV-related across the Total Film and SFX sections. I help bring you all the latest news and also the occasional feature too. I’ve previously written for publications like HuffPost and i-D after getting my NCTJ Diploma in Multimedia Journalism.