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DUNE PART 2 vs MAZE RUNNER





What do I mean by Dune Part 2 vs. Maze Runner? Those are two completely different stories, right? One is a sci-fi epic, almost like Lord of the Rings in Space, and the other is a post-apocalyptic teen drama. How can they be pitted against each other? Well, that’s a question we will look into today!

 



Recently, I went to the theater to watch Dune Part 2 with my dad. We settled down with snacks and drinks, leaned back in our seats, and watched an epic adventure unfold in IMAX.

On our way home, my dad and I were gushing over the incredible visuals, the cinematography, the visual effects, the tight script, and, of course, the sound design and music. We agreed it is one of the best, well-put-together movies we’ve seen recently. 

Only then did I realize, when we were praising it, that I had not connected to a single character. 

No one stood out to me, and I didn’t seem to care about anyone in particular. I asked my dad, “Did you care about any of the characters?” His answer?


No.

 

Around the same time, my family and I watched the Maze Runner movies. With the first being the fourth highest-grossing film series based on young-adult books, all well-crafted and reasonably accurate to their source material, complete with post-apocalyptic drama and suspenseful action, they were a blast for a fun family movie night. It didn’t have memorable soundscapes, sprawling, epic battles, intense, in-depth worldbuilding, but when we watched the final movie, I turned to Dad again and asked: “What about these characters?” His answer? 

 

Yes.  


But why? Why did we both fail to connect with Dune’s characters only to turn around and tear up over things happening to Maze Runner’s characters? It can’t be because Dune Part 2 is a sprawling sci-fi epic. After all, its epic fantasy counterpart, Lord of the Rings, has some of pop culture's most beloved, recognizable characters to date. So, to answer this question, we will look at two main things that drive character likeability and where Maze Runner succeeded while Dune Part 2 barely fell short.  


THE SURFACE


What are some of the first things we notice about likable characters? Most of the time, the first thing we notice about the character is personality, design, or one-liners. Because of this, we can see that morally good characters aren’t the only likable ones. Let’s use Loki from Marvel as an example. What did you think when you first thought of Loki? Is the green and gold outfit complete with those iconic horns? His mischief? His god-complex? His slew of one-liners and dramatic speeches? The Hulk scene? All of the above?


Similarly, consider Samwise Gamgee’s simple, down-to-earth personality and charm, Percy Jackson’s signature sarcasm, or Spider-Man’s quips. These quirks are designed to draw us to the characters quickly, bringing reactions of laughter, cozy joy, or a knowing smirk to our faces. But this is only the “dressing” of the character.  


BENEATH THE SURFACE


Of course, a character is more than their quirks. And while we can often think of a quirk as the reason we are initially attracted to a character, it's what lies beneath the surface that seals the deal and brings them close to our hearts. We get to know them through backstory, personal goals, dreams, character relationships, and interactions with those around them, which is then enhanced by watching them struggle, fight, and overcome obstacles in the way of their goals.

 

Once we get to know them, the moments of triumph stick with us a lot longer than if they were simply a "cool character." 

 

Would you love Samwise Gamgee as much if you didn't see his care and loyalty to Frodo? Would the scenes in Mordor hit as hard if we hadn't gotten to know him throughout the story? What about Spider-Man? Would his desperation to save someone still hit your heart the same without seeing his struggles, simple dreams, and the tragedy he suffered losing Uncle Ben?  


CONCLUSION?


We see the kids in Maze Runner being used as a science experiment, losing their families, memories, and each other. We see how close they become with one another and how much they care, and we weep with them at the losses and hard choices they have to make. We want nothing more than to see all these kids who have suffered so much, loved so much, fought so much, and who we’ve grown to care for to be safe, which is why we care when something terrible happens to them. 

 

In contrast, we have Dune Part 2. We hardly know anything about the characters' personal lives, pasts, and fears. We only see the big picture or merely glimpses of something more profound in character interactions.

In this epic story, the characters seem less like someone we can connect to and more like grand, faraway figures on a screen whose incredible feats we can cheer for but whose emotional moments we are hardly moved by.


When it comes down to it, the characters we care about are those we get to know better and connect to through sympathy or empathywhether through backstory, suffering, personal goals, dreams, or their relationships and interactions with those around them, all topped with a nice dash of signature personality. We grow to love them through knowing them, and after? Well, they forever have a special place in our hearts.


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