One of Dune’s Biggest, Non-Spoiler Questions Is Answered in Sandworm Poop

Estimated read time 3 min read

You can’t talk about the world of Dune without talking about sandworms. The massive, monolithic creatures are at the heart of not just Frank Herbert’s original novel, but both halves of Denis Villeneuve’s epic film adaptation. And if you’re talking about sandworms, you’re probably going to talk about thumpers.

What’s a thumper? They’re the black, cylindrical devices the Fremen of Arrakis use to produce a slow, steady rhythmic beat that attracts sandworms. In Dune: Part One, thumpers were used almost as a weapon, calling sandworms to places they weren’t welcome. In Dune: Part Two, they have another essential use, as the Fremen use them to call the sandworms as transportation. They’re basically Fremen Uber with one main difference: when you use Uber, the car doesn’t eat your phone. Sandworms devour thumpers.

Dune: Part Two, which opens in theaters March 1, has a lot of thumpers in it. Like, a lot. Mainly because the Fremen and their culture are such a prevalent part of the film and often need a ride. And while watching, you can’t help but wonder, where do these thumpers come from? Who makes them? Are they just one-and-done devices? We decided to ask the man himself, Dune: Part Two co-writer and director Denis Villeneuve, for his thoughts on thumpers and his answer did not disappoint.

Villeneuve with Rebecca Ferguson

Villeneuve with Rebecca Ferguson
Image: Warner Bros.

“Yeah, it’s a thing you ask yourself,” the director admitted to io9. “I’m sure the Fremen thought about that. I’m sure that there’s a way to recycle because it’s a culture that is all about recycling. It’s a bit like people living in space. It’s an environment that’s so harsh and they are very clever people. So, there’s a way of recycling those thumpers to find them back. We should ask a Fremen.”

Wait, did he say recycle? How do you recycle something that’s been eaten? Oh. Oh, Denis, no. “[Maybe] there is something that they can find back there out of the digestive system of the worm,” he said. Yes, the director of Dune: Part Two just admitted what makes the most sense is that Fremen find, and reuse, thumpers found in sandworm shit.

You will not see that happen in Dune: Part Two. But, if the film does well, a part three called Dune: Messiah is likely to happen. And maybe then there will be a subplot about thumper recycling.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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