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?
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
Dune: “People use space drugs to travel through space and gain super powers”— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) October 24, 2021
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
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.
Duncan Idaho is not a fundamentally different name to Indiana Jones— Josh but Spooky (@Joshy206) October 24, 2021
duncan idaho is the same name as hannah montana— Clare Rey (@claresrey) 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
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.
Can we just do this every fall? Dunetober fest? pic.twitter.com/M0GnjnlofO— Embrace the Void Pod (@ETVPod) October 23, 2021
We have Duncan Idaho but have no Dunkin' Idaho... pic.twitter.com/MaNgr59QrA— Jake o Lantern Flores (@feraljokes) October 25, 2021
One note: Duncan Idaho really should’ve said “my man” at least once— Patrick Willems (@patrickhwillems) October 23, 2021
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.