With a stellar first entry into the film franchise, a novel that has been touted as one of, if not the best sci-fi novel of all time, and lore that has plenty to draw from, that begs the question: Why isn't this a franchise already?
Writing for The New Yorker almost ten years ago, Jon Michaud asked the same question. And despite the lack of a level of fandom and obsession that equals say Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, the themes and legacy of Dune remain all the more prevalent.
"The conversion of Dune into a franchise, while pleasing readers and earning royalties for the Herbert estate, has gone a long way toward obscuring the power of the original novel. (I gave up after the fourth installment, God Emperor of Dune.) With daily reminders of the intensifying effects of global warming, the specter of a worldwide water shortage, and continued political upheaval in the oil-rich Middle East, it is possible that Dune is even more relevant now than when it was first published."
While political and religious allegories might not be the first thing to consider when establishing blockbuster movie franchises, they do lay an interesting foundation for how Dune could set itself apart from its contemporaries. Marvel and Star Wars are no strangers to real-world metaphors (the theme of government surveillance and oversight in Captain America: The Winter Soldier comes to mind), it is obvious that most of these movies are focused on the action first.
Perhaps it is here that Dune steps in. It's clear the franchise aims to bring a more serious tone to the traditional blockbuster, thanks in no small part to Denis Villeneuve's style of directing. A movie like this that takes itself seriously is nothing new, but it is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise crowded marketplace.