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What excites ‘Dune: Part Two’ co-writer Jon Spaihts most about ‘Dune Messiah’?

Dune: Part Two‘s explosive ending has already set the stage for the next step in Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and Chani’s (Zendaya) story. That can only mean one thing: Dune Messiah.

While Warner Bros. has yet to green-light a film based on Frank Herbert’s second Dune novel, Dune: Part Two‘s strong box office showing and reception from critics and general audiences alike could lead to a path for a Dune Messiah adaptation. The cogs are already in motion: Director Denis Villeneuve told The Hollywood Reporter that he is currently in the writing process. In an interview with Mashable, Dune: Part Two co-writer Jon Spaihts confirmed that Villeneuve was working on the screenplay and that the two have had discussions about the film. Although Spaihts himself has yet to work on a Messiah script in any official capacity, he’s more than ready to jump in.

“The exciting thing about Messiah is a truly inevitable and tremendous time jump,” Spaihts told Mashable. The book picks up years after Paul takes over the Imperium. By this point, the jihad in his name has claimed billions of lives. And as Spaihts puts it, “Heavy is the head that wears the crown.”

Messiah‘s time jump offers us the chance to see a version of Paul who’s grown further into his prescience, as well as more time with characters we didn’t see much of in Dune: Part Two, such as a now-grown Alia Atreides (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh). It also continues to emphasize Herbert’s cautionary tales about leader figures.

“The function of Dune Messiah in the Dune canon is in some ways a repudiation of Dune,” Spaihts explained. Yes, Herbert’s misgivings about messianic figures are present in Dune, but the ending — including Paul’s total rout of the Imperium — may leave room for heroic interpretations of Paul.

“I think Frank Herbert came away from [Dune] troubled a little bit that perhaps he had put too much of a real crown on his savior he was trying to warn people about,” Spaihts continued. “So, Dune Messiah really is his reply to himself and his reply to Dune. It’s like the second act of Into the Woods where everything falls apart, and the shadows of everything reveal themselves.”

With its bleak themes and cliffhanger ending, it’s clear Dune: Part Two is gearing up for Dune Messiah — perhaps even more emphatically than the end of Herbert’s original Dune. “The lovely thing is that the way Denis has shaped the end of Dune: Part Two has set the table even better than the novel does for the coming machinations of Dune Messiah, where we’ll see Chani and Princess Irulan clashing over the destiny of the Atreides family,” said Spaihts.

These clashes within the Atreides family, as well as a Bene Gesserit conspiracy to rid the Imperium of Paul, mark a tonal shift from the fight over Arrakis — one that Spaihts can’t wait to tackle.

“I’m very much excited to see that much more murky and nuanced political conflict,” Spaihts said. “The landscape of battle is very different; it’s much more palace intrigue in Dune Messiah than it is the open war of Dune: Part Two. So it will inevitably unfold as a very different film, with new flavors and new notes being played. And I think that’s very exciting.”

Dune: Part Two is now in theaters.