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Readers of Dune, Frank Herbert’s epic fantasy novel and bible for 14-year-old Denis Villeneuve, already know the nomenclature: in a world where Atreides fight Harkonnens, where gom jabbars test Muad'dibs and Stilgars and Chanis ride Shai-Huluds, one warrior will emerge, and his name shall be “Duncan Idaho.”
Duncan Idaho was no doubt a welcome relief for western readers trying to keep track of a cavalcade of characters; seeing such an Anglo-American name amidst titles inspired by non-romance languages helped "Duncan" stand out. (I’m not gonna lie: I was into it.) When put to screen—where human deity Jason Momoa stands out on his own—and spoken in conversation, well, “Duncan Idaho” lands a bit differently.
The internet is a cruel place, and it has been pointed out more than once that, among sandworms and spaceships, the one feature of Dune which shatters a viewer’s sense of verisimilitude is one name which sounds like a brand of maple syrup, or a midwestern town, or a chain of strip mall stands that let you make your own pretzel.
If we exercise the principle of charity for a second and try to defend Herbert’s etymological decision, we might say that the name evokes just the kind of folk hero Americana optimism that Herbert is himself roasting—the romantic exceptionalism of a people who maintain they have befriended and made peace with the native inhabitants of a nation they are literally invading, instead of merely infiltrating them and slaughtering them. In that case, “Duncan Idaho” is a kind of tragic ideal, which never materializes and instead falls to the reality of planetary hegemony.
Or it's just a dumb name.
Anyway, here are the memes.
Dune: “People use space drugs to travel through space and gain super powers”
Dune: “Space drugs are only on a dirt planet with giant worms and also the new space messiah”
Me: “Pretty reasonable”
Dune: “There’s a character named Duncan Idaho”
Me: “okay hold on
— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) October 24, 2021
Duncan Idaho. Johnny Utah. Nathan Arizona. Hannah Montana. we're not stopping until we've covered all 50
— c🎃le (@krondotcom) October 25, 2021
duncan idaho is the same name as hannah montana
— Clare Rey (@claresrey) October 23, 2021
It is the year 10191. Interstellar travel has been mastered, and laser weapons and cloning are possible. The toughest man alive is named Duncan Idaho
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) October 24, 2021
My favorite character on Dune is Duncan Idaho. pic.twitter.com/YVRhvzkAzh
— Adam Kotsko (@adamkotsko) October 24, 2021
Duncan Idaho the moment Paul landed on Arrakis. pic.twitter.com/fYCFDRFTM9
— ✨ FILM DAZE ✨ (@filmdaze) October 25, 2021
man, imagine getting your shit totally rocked by a dude named duncan idaho
— pumpkin spice melange (@ebruenig) October 25, 2021
Duncan Idaho and Paul Atreides pic.twitter.com/lMQFcNWQUf
— DoctorTomato (@DoctorTomato1) October 24, 2021
america runs on duncan idaho
— bong the Reaper 💀💀💀 (@tweed_thneed) October 23, 2021
If I told you Dune was out this weekend AND a new Wes Anderson film, which one would you think included a character named Duncan Idaho?
— Patrick Barb (@pbarb) October 24, 2021
I just love the friendship between Paul Atreides and Duncan Idaho pic.twitter.com/6iNTJRZ4Cp
— Dia Lacina (@dialacina) October 23, 2021
Duncan Idaho | Dunkin Massachusetts pic.twitter.com/VxnUOGLt3G
— Jesse Crap (@jessecarp) October 24, 2021
I am too high to find out that there is a character in DUNE named Duncan Idaho. They keep saying it and I keep pausing the movie to laugh.
— Sean O’Connor (@seanoconnz) October 23, 2021
You can convince me the man on the left is named Duncan Idaho but I will never believe the man on the right is named Duncan Idaho pic.twitter.com/4subZs6jTF
— Andrea Steward of the Dead (@AndreaGStewart) October 23, 2021
The Southwest Avengers: Duncan Idaho, Robert California, Nathan Arizona, and Johnny Utah. pic.twitter.com/m5CQ94fpgd
— Hi, I’m Derek. (@CapSteveRogers) October 24, 2021
It suddenly occurs to me that Duncan (Man-At-Arms) from He-Man is probably named after Duncan Idaho (cool weapon dude) from DUNE. pic.twitter.com/GH3ZcGrj8I
— Tim Seeley (@HackinTimSeeley) October 23, 2021
— Ema Sasic (@ema_sasic) October 25, 2021
We have Duncan Idaho but have no Dunkin' Idaho... pic.twitter.com/MaNgr59QrA
— Jake o Lantern Flores (@feraljokes) October 25, 2021
i loved duncan idaho. jason momoa could be named dunkin’ donut and i’d still think he was a bad ass. pic.twitter.com/sMCTxeDDII
— Z🎃E (@Zo_bo_fo_sho) October 24, 2021
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