Director Denis Villeneuve is not a fan of after-credit scenes, and that’s a noticeable problem with his 2021 Dune adaptation. In his latest film, Villeneuve covers the first half of Frank Herbert’s first iconic Dune novel, published in 1965. The film follows three different groups, House Atreides, House Harkonnen, and the Fremen, and their conflict over the desert planet of Arrakis. After a decree from the Emperor, House Atreides takes over the stewardship of Arrakis from House Harkonnen. However, Arrakis, the home of the Fremen, is also the location of a lucrative spice mining operation. Spice is necessary for space travel and incredibly valuable, so House Harkonnen doesn’t take kindly to the news. Eventually, House Harkonnen attacks House Atreides. Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet) and his mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), are forced to escape to the desert and face the harsh conditions and sandworms of Arrakis.
Over the last decade, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has put after-credit scenes on the map. The MCU started the trend in 2008 with a post-credits scene in Iron Man teasing Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury and his Avenger Initiative. Then Marvel just built from there, continuing to include teases for future projects when the credits rolled. As the popularity of credits scenes grew, Marvel even added multiple scenes to the credits. In some cases, such as an Ant-Man and the Wasp credit scene showing which characters were victims of Thanos’ (Josh Brolin) snap, the scenes can even create more buzz than the movie they follow. Today, credit scenes are one of Marvel’s main draws for their films, fueling fan excitement and speculation for where the MCU will go next.
Of course, Denis Villeneuve has no love for credit scenes, which is a problem in Dune. At the end of Villeneuve’s Dune adaptation, Paul sees someone riding on an immense sandworm through the desert. Then, despite the film being two and a half hours long, Zendaya’s Chani tells him, “This is only the beginning.” The movie concludes with Paul and Lady Jessica heading off into the desert with the Fremen, ready to learn their ways. In an interview, Villeneuve explained why there was no credit scene, saying he doesn’t like them and wanted the final frame of Dune to have a specific emotion. As far as credit scenes, he says he would never add them.
Unfortunately, the lack of credit scenes hurts Dune. The film ends abruptly on a relatively blasé note. Paul is simply heading off into the desert with the Fremen. There’s no cliffhanger or hook to keep the moment interesting. With Villeneuve breaking Herbert’s novel in half, he saved the most exciting parts of the story, a.k.a. Paul and the Fremen taking on the Harkonnens, for a future second movie. That Dune sequel wasn’t even guaranteed to happen at the time of the first film’s release. Now, the sequel won’t come out until 2023, and viewers who weren’t hooked by the first film’s ending have little incentive to tune in. An after-credits scene could’ve teased some of the action and twists the sequel will bring, keeping interest and speculation alive over the years that fans will be waiting.
Villeneuve made the movie he wanted to make. A detriment of credit scenes is that they can sometimes overshadow the film they follow. With no Dune credit scene, the director doesn’t have to worry about that problem. In the end, Dune is Villeneuve’s vision, and the first film was a big enough hit to give the director a sequel. Will the second film make as big of an impact? Unfortunately, there’s no after-credit scene to provide any indication.