Florence Pugh’s Dune 2 Role Is Even Improving On The Book, 59 Years Later

Florence Pugh is making her debut as Princess Irulan in Dune: Part Two, and it looks like the sequel will improve upon Frank Herbert's book character 59 years later. Denis Villeneuve's Dune 2 is one of the most-anticipated new movies coming out in 2024, as it will continue the sci-fi story set up in 2021's blockbuster hit. This will see stars like Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya returning to their roles, and several newcomers will make their entrance in Villeneuve's follow-up as well.

Pugh is one of those Dune 2 additions, and her arrival is an exciting prospect for multiple reasons. To start, Pugh is a well-known and beloved star after playing Yelena Belova in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Amy March in Little Women, and Dani in Midsommar. Beyond the talent showcased in Pugh's best movies, the actor's take on the Dune character is exciting because it promises to elevate her book counterpart. With Dune 2's approach and Pugh's acting prowess, Princess Irulan will prove different from Herbert's interpretation of the character — and that's a good thing.

Dune's Book & Other Adaptations Struggled With Princess Irulan

The Character Doesn't Have Enough Of A Personality Or Role

In Herbert's Dune, Princess Irulan is a conflicted character with a fascinating narrative — though sadly, the 1965 novel struggles to actually give the character much of a personality or a proper role. Princess Irulan's story should be a gripping one, as she's both royalty and a Bene Gesserit. The latter distinction grants her extraordinary abilities, while her royal ties add a layer of complexity to her involvement in the order. These clashing interests make her an ideal character to tap into. Unfortunately, Herbert's book never fully commits to this. Princess Irulan is not a very active addition despite her potential.

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Princess Irulan appears in former Dune adaptations as well, but they fail to sufficiently improve upon her depiction in Herbert's source material. Virginia Madsen's iteration of the character in 1984's Dune isn't much more fleshed out or active than her book counterpart. And while the Dune miniseries from the early 2000s does a better job of portraying Princess Irulan, it doesn't give her much more to do. Dune: Part Two can fix this, updating her narrative and using Pugh's acting skills to deliver a more well-rounded characterization.

Dune 2 Already Looks Like It's Doing Princess Irulan Right

Florence Pugh's Character Seems To Be In The Midst Of The Action

Princess Irulan may not be a very active character in Herbert's novel, but Dune 2 appears to be making up for that. Although Pugh's character is shown only briefly in the Dune 2 trailers and promotional images, it seems as though the movie is giving her a stronger role than the book character she's based on. On its own, casting a big-name actor like Pugh suggests that Villeneuve's adaptation is placing more importance on the princess.

The early looks at Dune 2 also see the character seemingly in the midst of the action, which will hopefully translate to a larger part in the overarching plot. From a modern perspective, Princess Irulan's storyline and ending are pretty underwhelming, suggesting that they're due for an update. While Pugh's version of the character will no doubt end up in the same place as the original, how she gets there can be very different. Dune: Part Two can shed more light on her thoughts and feelings about her lack of choices, and her eventual marriage can be reached in a more satisfying manner.

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Why Getting Princess Irulan Right Is Important For Dune

Frank Herbert's Character Needs An Update

Getting Princess Irulan right is important for Dune 2 for multiple reasons, the largest being that she's a fascinating character who's captured the attention of many since the first Dune novel hit shelves. While fans of Herbert's work have differing opinions about her arc and its conclusion, there's no denying that her character has many interesting qualities. Her inner conflict alone is enough to draw viewers into her storyline, though Dune's sequel must improve upon it to keep them invested.

The fact that Pugh is playing Irulan in Villeneuve's sequel puts more pressure on Dune: Part Two to get her character right. It's possible that some moviegoers will show up for Pugh alone, and they'll be disappointed if her time on-screen is lacking. There's also a need for more women with agency in fantasy and sci-fi stories, and Dune 2 can go a long way toward delivering such representation through characters like Pugh's (though Chani and Lady Jessica also fulfill this purpose).

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