Commander Lyle Tiberius Rourke is the main antagonist of Disney's 2001 animated feature film Atlantis: The Lost Empire. He was the Commander of a previous mission to Iceland where he assisted Milo Thatch's grandfather Thaddeus in locating the Shepherd's Journal. He is voiced by James Garner.
Rourke is composed, practical, resolute, pragmatic, brave, understanding, and reasonable. Later, he is scheming, calculated, devilish, sarcastic, arrogant, cunning, unfriendly, ruthless, violent, and greedy.
According to Rourke, he also has quite a bit of control over his temper, as he tells Milo and congratulates Milo for setting it off.
He bears Resemblace to Bill Sykes, only with a more built, and more of the Military Experience muscle as seen later in the film, He also bears resemblance similar to Major Chip Hazard on "Small Soldiers", in hence of the inspiration for Rourke's design.
Lyle T. Rourke was born in 1860 and learned the ways of military life at an early age when his father, a cavalry officer named Lt. Col. Jackson, was killed in battle in 1864 during the Civil War. After repeated expulsions from boarding school for fighting, Rourke resolved to follow in his father's footsteps and joined the military in 1875 at age fifteen. There, he exhibited a remarkable talent for leadership, owing to his analytical mind, charisma, and refusal to acknowledge the white flag surrender. He married in June 1887, but his wife left him after only four months.
He held numerous expeditions during his career, most notably leading the Whitmore Expedition to Atlantis.
Atlantis: The Lost Empire
- “I love it when I win.”
- ―Lyle Tiberius Rourke
Rourke leads the expedition to find the Shepherd's Journal in Iceland. When Thaddeus Thatch is not looking, he rips out a page concerning a giant crystal and convinces virtually everyone else on the forthcoming expedition to Atlantis to retrieve it and sell it on the black market for a hefty sum.
As commanding officer of the expedition, he is primarily responsible for making the decisions that will ensure the mission's success as well as the survival of his crew. This includes the belief of there being acceptable losses in his attempt to defend the Ulysses from an attacking Leviathan before ordering all hands to abandon ship.
He has little contact with others outside of his directing orders, preferring to stand apart. When the expedition is dropped into a cavern while escaping the attack of fireflies, he recognizes a possible exit route through the top of the volcano they are in. With the discovery of Atlantis being alive and thriving, Rourke maintains to a hesitant Helga Sinclair that their primary objective remains as planned.
After attempting to learn from the Atlanteans where the crystal might be, he turns to Milo Thatch to decipher the stolen page. While Milo refuses to play along with him, Rourke becomes more forceful and has a gun pointed at Princess Kidagakash. He then has the doors to the king's chambers blown open and demands King Kashekim Nedakh explain the riddle that reveals the location of the crystal, going so far as to strike the already dying king in front of a horrified crew. Sitting on the throne and threatening to execute the king, Rourke manages to figure out the riddle on his own and proceeds to descend into the chamber with Helga dragging Milo and Kida along.
While Milo and Rourke argue over how the crystal is to be retrieved, Kida is called upon by the Heart of Atlantis and is bonded with it. Rourke then has Kida sealed up in a container and prepares to leave. Milo pleads that their actions will kill the Atlanteans, but Rourke does not care and decks him. However, he ends up losing all, but Helga, of the key members of the expedition when they develop a conscious. Rourke has the bridge destroyed to prevent them from following in an attempt to stop him.
Rourke has the top of the volcano blown open and has a hot air balloon ascending with the container when Milo and the others arrive in flying stone fish vehicles. During the chaos, Milo crashes his stone fish into one of the balloons, causing it to descend. With all of the extra weight having already been thrown off, Rourke throws off Helga in an act of self-preservation. However, a dying Helga gets back by destroying the main balloon with a flare gun.
Enraged, Rourke begins to take his aggression out on Milo and uses an axe. He hits a glass cover of the container, with glass shards becoming embedded with the Heart of Atlantis. As Rourke holds Milo up for a killing blow, Milo cuts him with one of the shards and he begins to transform into crystal form. Rourke still attacks, but a chance situation causes him to be hoisted into the still moving propellers, destroying him for good.
House of Mouse
Rourke appeared in Donald Wants to Fly, watching Kida fly above his head in quiet awe. Strangely enough, he, for some reason, does not appear in the show's tie-in film Mickey's House of Villains, not even as a cameo, and is therefore the only Disney villain featured in that show that doesn't appear in that film at all.
As has been the case in their previous films, directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise wanted the film's villain not to be the usual mustache-twirling bad guy. They wanted the character to have complexity by not making him inherently evil, but rather greedy. The idea being that they wanted a three-dimensional character as opposed to a two-dimensional villain.
The supervising animator of Rourke was Michael Surrey. At first, Mike was excited at animating the character because villains are generally the most desired characters for animators as they are generally allowed to do whatever they pleased. Mike then realized that it was not going to be like that early on as Rourke was not the typical type of villain. It was not until the climatic battle in the volcano that Mike was able to really animate the villainous scenes he had been hoping to do.
James Garner provided the voice of Rourke. While Tommy Lee Jones, Jack Davenport, and Kurt Russell were among those also considered for the role, Garner was chosen for his extensive acting background in action films, westerns, and war movies, making his voicing a character like Rourke fit him like a glove. Garner was noted for having fun doing the role and was impressed with Trousdale and Wise's ability to direct what he describes as an ensemble piece.
- Mercenary? I prefer the term 'adventure capitalist'. Besides, you're the one who brought us here. You're the one who led us to the treasure chest."
- "OK, you heard the woman. Let's move!"
- "Looks like all our chances rest with you, Mr. Thatch. You and that little book."
- "I love it when I win."
- "How 'bout it, Chief? Where's the crystal chamber?"
- "Nothing personal!"
- "Well, I gotta hand it to ya. You're a bigger pain in the neck than I would have ever thought possible! I consider myself an even-tempered man 'cause it takes a lot to get under my skin. But congrats! You've just won your solid gold kewpie doll!"
- "Gettin' tired, Mr. Thatch?! Ah, that's darn shame.... 'cause I'm just getting warmed up!" (his last words)
- Rourke is similar to Sir Ector from The Sword in the Stone, Governor Ratcliffe from Pocahontas, and Judge Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, as all three are soldiers/army commanders and are trained in combat or lead an army into battle against the Heroes.
- Rourke is also similar to Stromboli from Pinocchio and Clayton from Tarzan as all three are thought of as good guys at first, but then they reveal their true colors by betraying the protagonists who thought they could trust them.
- When Rourke gets turned into a crystal creature it's similar to Sa'luk's death in Aladdin and the king of theives.
- Rourke is similar to non-Disney villain, Colonel Miles Quaritch from James Cameron's Avatar. Both are in military ranks. Both have killed the leader of a a certain area and are willing to kill anyone to get what they want. Both have henchmen who shown to be very competent. Both want a buried item from a different land to make money off. Both are mercenaries and use the film's protagonist to help them get what they want. Both punch the protagonist so hard that he falls to the ground when the protagonists insults him. Both are killed while lifting the protagonist up.
- Rourke's treachery and eventual betrayal was actually foreshadowed early in the film during Milo's conversation with Whitmore: When Whitmore shows Milo the photographs of all of the explorers he will be travelling to Atlantis with, Rourke's photograph shows only half his face. Also, along with their photos are small sheets of paper showing the explorer's profiles and biographies. Since we do not see the other half of Rourke's face, we do not see his biography at all.
- Also, when the remaining crew members are forced to evacuate the submarine, Rourke is the first to enter the escape pods. In real life, the captain is always the last crew member to evacuate a sinking ship (hence the phrase "go down with the ship"), so this is often considered disrespectful to maritime culture, although the writers probably deliberately had him do so to further foreshadow Rourke's treacherous nature.
- Yet another clue to Rourke's betrayal includes some of his early lines in the film, especially those containing either the words "rich" and/or "money", with the most obvious example of this being his line, "This will be an enriching for all of us."
- After Rourke abandons all of his teammates except for Helga along with Milo and the other Atlanteans in Atlantis, as he and Helga are leaving Atlantis with the crystallized Kida, he tells himself, "P.T. Barnum was right." P.T. Barnum was a famous American showman who coined the phrase, "there's a sucker born every minute."
- Rourke's middle name, Tiberius, could be a possible reference to Captain James Tiberius Kirk from the show Star Trek, of which Kashekim Nedakh's voice actor Leonard Nimoy played Spock.
- Rourke has at least 90 henchmen (including himself and Helga), given the fact that the Ulysses was supposed to have 200 crew members at the start of the expedition, and that half (100) of said crew were all killed in the Leviathan attack, and that only seven crew members (Milo, Vinny, Molière, Audrey, Dr. Sweet, Mrs. Packard, and Cookie) actually survive at the end.
- For a while, Rourke (and to a much lesser extent, Helga), was the most marketed character from the film following Atlantis' release, and was therefore officially the most popular character from that film. However, Rourke's popularity may only be due to the fact that he is the villain.
- At one point Tommy Lee Jones, Jack Davenport, and Kurt Russell was going to be cast as Rourke.