Like every self-respecting sci-fi epic that’s set on a distant planet populated by various races, creeds and cultures, Denis Villenueve’s Dune is packed full of dense terminology, dry exposition and characters with very unusual names.
Sure, the main character in the story is a dude named Paul, but he gets anointed as Muad’Dib by the Fremen eventually. The supporting cast is filled out with such luminaries as Gurney Halleck, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Glossu Rabban, Thulfir Hawat, Gaius Helen Mohiam, Shadout Mapes and Padisha Emperor Shaddam Corino IV.
However, one of the background players sticks out like a sore thumb among the roll call. We are, of course, talking about Jason Momoa’s Duncan Idaho. He may be a highly-trained warrior and mentor of sorts to Timothee Chalamet’s Paul, but he also has the name of a burnout you’d find down at the local gas station asking for a dollar.
Villenueve won’t stand for any criticism, though, after some Dune fans mocked Duncan the badass space pilot on social media, revealing in an interview with Vulture that he enjoys the juxtaposition.
“Personally, I deeply love it. I love that Frank Herbert gives hints of Earth culture. You have links with the Catholic religion, or Middle Eastern cultural elements. They are hints that these people were coming from Earth, and then they expanded into the galaxy. And ‘Duncan Idaho’ roots it to Earth. So personally, I don’t know what your position on it is, but I love it. I think it’s the best.”
Not everyone in an ambitious sci-fi has to have a ridiculous name, but it’s apparently a requisite in 99% of cases. If anything, we should see more people called Bob, Steve and Anne in films like Dune, if only to make things a touch more relatable for the audience.