After the film was released last week, fans took to social media to express their frustrations that the actress appeared in the film for only a brief amount of time.
In the film adaptation of Frank Herbert's 1965 novel, Zendaya plays Fremen warrior Chani and appears in a handful of scenes. According to the Los Angeles Times, she narrates the opening of the film and then makes a few appearances throughout the dreams of protagonist Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet). But spoiler alert, she doesn't reappear until the end of the film when she and Paul meet.
Considering Zendaya has been featured in Dune's trailer and poster and has been promoting the film on its press tour, many viewers expected her to have a bigger role in the movie.
So what gives? The filmmakers' interview with the Los Angeles Times may have the answer.
According to the newspaper, the movie covers only two-thirds of the book. Denis Villeneuve explained "this movie is really focused on Paul" and he hopes to shine a light on the characters who didn't get as much (or any) attention in the sequel.
"There are some characters that are less developed that I'm keeping for the second film—that's the way I found the equilibrium," he said. "We tried in this movie to stay as close as possible to Paul's experience. Then, in the second one, I will have time to develop some characters that were left aside a little bit. That's the theory. I hope it will work."
A second film, you say? Yep! Warner Bros. just announced that the Dune sequel will be released in October 2023. And it looks like viewers could see more of Zendaya this time around.
"God knows there's a lot of story left to tell," Eric Roth, who co-wrote Dune with Villeneuve and Jon Spaihts, told the L.A. Times. "A lot of [the sequel] will be concerned with the Fremen and what their political strategies are. You'll get into the relationship with Paul and Chani. And then, of course, there's always the villain."
To be fair, Zendaya had hinted that she didn't have a large role in Dune before its release. Still, it looked like she enjoyed the experience.
"My part is very, very small in this movie and that's why I'm so excited to see it, to see what everyone's been up to," she said in an August interview with Empire. "[Denis and I] had a little discussion about who Chani is and the strength she possesses. She's a fighter, that's what her people are. I only really had a few days with her, so I kind of scratched the surface but it was so much fun figuring her out. What does she walk like, what does she talk like? This is her planet, so how does she navigate this world? It was so fun."