Lyle Tiberius Rourke
Job Title: Commander of the Atlantis Expedition
Premiered in: Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
Voiced By: James Garner
If The Emperor’s New Groove was too much of a child’s cartoon then Atlantis: The Lost Empire is the kind of animation better suited to the likes of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim insomuch that whereas the former is comedic and bright, Atlantis: The Lost Empire is nothing short of grim and dark. One of the few Disney Animated films to not include musical songs, be it through background or characters singing aloud, Atlantis: The Lost Empire is Disney’s attempt at an action adventure film and, in that regard, they succeeded almost too well. It broke all the norms that Disney is famous for, and I not only respect that but this along with one other Post-Renaissance film is one of my all-time favorite films of the era and easily amongst my top ten lists. But we’re not here to talk shop about the film itself though there is one bit of interesting information I’ll share at the end. No, we’re here to talk about the film’s villain, Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke.
Before anyone asks, yes, the man’s middle name was purposefully made Tiberius as a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement to two famous people of Star Trek renown involved in the film. As to the man himself… well, he’s a rather interesting character to say the least. His Wikipedia page on the Disney Wiki hosts information of his life prior to the events of the film that show that even from the start, he was a man of anger, greed, and a selfish attitude. Even before his true character is revealed in the film itself, there are hints of it in the beginning where he emphasizes certain words like “enriching” but there was one act in particular that really paints him as the blackguard that he is. During the attack by the Atlantean’s Leviathan, Rourke was one of, if not the first, to abandon the sinking ship, something that any marine captain worth even a fourth of his weight in gold would never do under any circumstances. There is a reason for the adage of “going down with the ship” and Rourke spat on it.
His goal, like many other villains, was for monetary gain and it came in the form of the crystal known simply as the Heart of Atlantis. What I found rather odd about the whole affair is that, aside from the Sheperd’s Journal, which is admittedly a hefty amount of proof to the existence of Atlantis, I can’t honestly figure out just what Rourke actually planned to do with the crystal or how he came to the conclusion that it even exists as it is illustrated in the book. I mean, look at the above screencap. He had no idea how to read the language and the page itself was more of a riddle than an actual description so for all that he knew, it was a rock no bigger than the palm of his hand.
Yet when the crystal’s worth was proven and made all the more apparent when it transferred itself into the body of the body of the Atlantis princess, Kida, that didn’t stop Rourke. Even when with the knowledge that the people of Atlantis would die without the crystal, Rourke was undeterred though the same could not be said of his then partner-in-crime, Helga Sinclair.
Not so much a minion or a henchwoman as she is a femme fatale who could, and did, hold her own in any fight, Helga… Helga wasn’t so much evil as she was indebted to Rourke to things that occurred before the events of the film and though she was hesitant to do so, she still went with his plan because of that same debt. However, that debt would be her undoing as an attempt made by Milo and the gang to stop Rourke from leaving with the crystal damaged the balloon they were using to reach the surface and after realizing that there was nothing left to lighten the load… Well, Rourke threw Helga off the balloon while it was still several hundred feet in the air. Though she managed to swing her way back on the first time, the second attempt proved to be the charm and the jinx for Rourke as Helga managed to live long enough to shoot the balloon down with her flare gun.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the killing blow for Rourke who, in the midst of fisticuffs with Milo, had his hand cut by a shard of the Heart of Atlantis as it tried to breach the container it and Kida were placed within. The cut, more or less, infected Rourke with the Heart of Atlantis which then proceeded to do what any alien crystalline structure is want to do and reek havoc upon the man’s body by turning him into living crystal. Though still alive and able to function, Rourke ultimately shared a structure more along the lines of glass, as he was shattered to pieces and scattered to the four winds.
Now, to wrap up this surprisingly lengthy review, allow me a moment to share a bit of trivia with you, my dear readers. Recall that I mentioned that not one but two famous people of Star Trek renown were involved with the film? One was Leonard Nemoy whom voiced the King of Atlantis but the other is a man by name of Marc Okrand. For those whom aren’t trekkies, this is the man who created the Klingon language and was brought into the film to not only create the Atlantean alphabet but its spoken language as well. Don’t believe me? Then check out the Wikipedia article on the Atlantean language and see for yourselves just how much awesome was put into this movie.