Dune 2's Ending Abandons the Creator's Original Plan for Zendaya's Chani

By David Thompson Posted:
Zendaya as Chani in Dune 2 ending

The ending of Dune 2 radically altered the original ending for Chani, portrayed by Zendaya in the new movie.

Having originally been written by Frank Herbert in 1965, the Dune story has evolved into an epic two-part cinematic experience by Denis Villeneuve.

The latest film, Dune: Part Two, was a smash success in theaters, grossing over $700 million at the global box office. However, those who read the book may have noticed a critical difference in the ending of Dune 2.

Dune 2 Changes the Ending for Chani

Zendaya as Chani in Dune 2.
Dune: Part Two

Denis Villnueve's Dune: Part Two significantly deviates from the original ending involving Zendaya's Chani. 

In the novel, she remains with Paul and becomes his concubine while he marries Princess Irulan for political reasons However, Chani leaves Paul and the Fremen on a sandworm in the film, marking a substantial departure from the original ending. 

This change highlights Chani's more active and independent role, rejecting Paul's Holy War and prioritizing herself. 

Timothee Chalamet in Dune 2.
Dune: Part Two

Denis Villeneuve explained to USA Today that although this change departs from the plot of the book Dune, it aligns with Frank Herbert's original intentions of not glorifying Paul's rise to power.

The director explained how Herbert was initially "very concerned that people saw Dune as a celebration of revenge" while the point of the book is "to be a warning against charismatic leaders and messianic figures:"

"Frank Herbert was very concerned that people saw 'Dune' as a celebration of revenge and of Paul Atreides as a great leader. He wanted 'Dune' to be a warning against charismatic leaders and messianic figures. Paul is not the hero, but the antihero."

Villeneuve further explained that the change to Chani's ending was purposeful but still "very close to the intentions of Frank Herbert:"

"...The only way I could end the movie slightly differently from the book, but very close to the intentions of Frank Herbert."

Another notable omission is Paul and Chani's unborn child, Leto II Atreides the Elder, who is significant in the original novel but absent from the film. 

In the book, Paul and Chani marry and have a son, who is tragically killed by a House Corrino raiding party. This plot element was likely removed to emphasize their other children, Ghanima and another Leto II, from Dune Messiah, potentially appearing in a future film.

[ Dune Part 3 Release: When Will It Come Out? ]

Expect More Differences in Dune 3

Chani calling a sand worm at the end of Dune 2.
Dune: Part Two

In the book Dune Messiah, Chani is pregnant again with Paul's child, despite his wife Princess Irulan (played by Florence Pugh in Dune 2) wanting to bear his children.

Irulan attempts to end Chani's pregnancy with drugs, but it ultimately fails. Following a Spice-accelerated five-month pregnancy, Chani gives birth to twins, Leto and Ghanima. However, the complications from Irulan's drugs caused Chani's death shortly after childbirth.

Clearly, a Dune 3, based on Dune Messiah will deviate a lot from the original source material.

Zendaya as Chani in Dune 2.
Dune: Part Two

Denis Villeneuve told The New York Times that he's currently writing the third movie. The filmmaker couldn't help but mention the significant change to Chani's character, stating her "anger is tremendous" and adding that he's "very excited about that decision:"

"That anger [felt by Chani at the end of 'Dune 2'] is tremendous. I don't want to reveal what I'm going to do with the third movie. I know exactly what to do. I'm writing it right now. But there's a lot of firepower there, and I'm very excited about that decision."

It appears Villeneuve will aim to enhance the role of female characters and highlight the dangers of absolute power in Dune 3.

Dune Messiah outlines a future where Paul, now Emperor, presides over a galaxy-wide genocide he cannot control, with Chani as his only solace. 

However, with Chani now in conflict with Paul at the end of Dune 2, this casts major uncertainty over Dune 3's plot. 

Villeneuve's decision to deviate from Herbert's plot enhances the story by emphasizing female characters and the dangers of absolute power. This shift makes Paul's villainy even more apparent, aligning with the original themes of Dune by Frank Herbert.

Fans can expect Zendaya's Chani to play an entirely new role in the next Dune movie, possibly as the film's lead protagonist.

Dune and Dune: Part Two are now streaming on Max.

Read more about Dune:

Dune 2 Fans Upset by Max's 'Cropping' of Movie's Streaming Release Version

Dune 2 Box Office: Every Record Broken So Far

Dune 2 Director Confirms What We All Suspected About the Ending

- In This Article: Dune: Part 2
Release Date
March 01, 2024
Rebecca Ferguson
Timothée Chalamet
- About The Author: David Thompson
As an editor, writer, and podcast host, David is a key member of The Direct. He is an expert at covering topics like Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and business-related news following the box office and streaming.