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Duncan Idaho’s name is the most meme-able part of Dune

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Sorry, his name is what?

Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho, wielding two blades and surrounded by collapsed or collapsing soldiers in grey armor in Dune Photo: Chiabella James/Warner Bros.

A name says a lot about someone. Would a rose by any other name smell just as sweet? The current adaptation of Denis Villeneuve’s Dune playing in theaters and on HBO Max makes a lot of bold creative choices, but one tiny detail is taking up a lot of real estate in the discussions of the film online. What’s up with Duncan Idaho, exactly? What’s that name? It sticks out like a sore thumb, and it’s led to lots of extremely good memes.

Duncan Idaho isn’t a new addition to the movie; he’s a big part of the books, as well, and he later plays a role in the sequels. You could say that Duncan Idaho is an integral part of Dune lore. It’d be weirder to change his name than just adapt him faithfully. But compared to the majesty of the rest of the film, people are still pausing as his name comes up in dialogue. Duncan Whomst?

The name kind of works, though, once you see Duncan in action on film. Despite being an expert sword master and the right hand to a duke, he’s also a warm, welcoming presence. While many other people in Paul Atreides’ life are distant or demanding, Duncan Idaho is a great guy. He hugs Paul, calls him ‘my boy,’ and is a pretty great presence in his life. Maybe the name helps establish that early on. After all, there’s a familiar cadence to it.

There’s a whole lot to take in throughout the course of Dune, but Duncan serves as kind of a touchstone throughout the film. He’s a bro, and in a sea of high concept sci-fi terminology, we could all use a friend like Mr. Idaho. He’s a sword master and a badass, but a loyal friend. He’s a source of comfort to Paul as the action ramps up and the political intrigue turns deadly.

It’s tough to put a finger on why, exactly, Duncan Idaho is so funny. Is it the contrast to the other names and terms in the film? Does the word Idaho just have an inherently funny ring to it? Who can truly say? All I know is, I am here for the Duncan Idaho memes as they continue to come out on the timeline.