He initially appears as a respectable, practical, and composed expedition commander and leader, but as the movie progresses, he turns out to be a ruthless and evil mercenary out to capture the Heart of Atlantis and make money off of it. He kidnaps Princess Kida after she is consumed by the crystal to steal it, nearly killing all of the Atlanteans. Rourke meets his demise on board his own air balloon whilst fighting Milo Thatch. He was voiced by the late James Garner.
Role in the filmIn 1914, thousands of years after Atlantis supposedly sank beneath the ocean's surface, Milo James Thatch, an aspiring young linguist working in the boiler room at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., believes that a manuscript known as the Shepherd's Journal will lead to the location of Atlantis. When his request to lead an expedition is denied by the Institution's board, he angrily resigns but then finds himself contacted by millionaire Preston B. Whitmore, a friend of Milo's grandfather, Thadeus Thatch. The elder Thadeus Thatch had already located the Journal, and asked Whitmore to give it to Milo when he was ready.
Whitmore asks Milo to become part of a team to search for Atlantis on a high-tech submarine. Milo joins Commander Rourke, his second-in-command Helga Sinclair, demolitions expert Vincenzo "Vinny" Santorini, geologist Gaetan "Mole" Molière, medical officer Dr. Joshua Sweet, tomboy mechanic Audrey Ramirez, cook Jebidiah Allerdyce "Cookie" Farnsworth, and cynical communications expert Wilhelmina Packard.
The sub is sunk by an underwater Leviathan, but the team escapes. After fateful misadventures, they are able to find the underwater entrance to Atlantis. To their amazement, the city still survives in a bubble beneath the earth. They are met by Kida, daughter of the Atlantean King who initially refuses to let them stay, but eventually allows them to stay one night. Kida discovers that Milo can read the Atlantean language, long forgotten by her own people. They dive to read ancient underwater murals, and learn about the Heart of Atlantis, which is the source of the power that saved Atlantis from the tidal wave and of the strange blue gems that each Atlanean wears. As they leave the ruins, they are caught by Rourke and the rest of the team, who now reveal who they truly are and that they are out to steal the Heart Of Atlantis. They find the crystal in a chamber below the King's quarters. Kida is drawn to the crystal and consumed by it, turning her into a crystalized human.
Rourke puts Kida in a box and plans to take the crystalized princess to the surface. But without the Heart, all the Atlanteans will die. When Milo tells the team this, Rourke takes it as an insult and punches Milo in the face. He crushes Milo's picture under his heel by mocking him that he's the man that discovered? The other team members, hating how Rourke assaulted Milo, abandon their plan to steal the Heart to stand alongside Milo, and Rourke leaves them all behind with Helga. The King, mortally wounded by Rourke when he punched him in the stomach, gives Milo his crystal and begs him to rescue his daughter and save Atlantis before dying. Milo and the Atlanteans discover how to use the crystals to activate ancient flying machines and they give chase as an air force. During the fight that follows, Rourke betrays Helga and tosses her off to lighten the load of his air balloon (similar to what Ratigan did in The Great Mouse Detective). He then tries to escape through an ancient volcano, and as Milo tries to stop him, Rourke attacks him with an axe. As the axe smashes into a glass panel on the box containing the crystalized Kida, Milo picks up one of the broken shards and uses it to slash Rourke's arm. The crystal magic stored in the shard quickly spreads through Rourke's body, turning him into a glowing blue crystalized humanoid. Milo believes he is dead, but Rourke suddenly lunges at him, taking Milo completely by surprise and forcing him to climb down the fixture to escape. By doing this, the fixture begins to tilt and Rourke is raised straight up into the balloon's propeller, causing him to shatter into a million fragments.
Like Clayton from Tarzan, Rourke is one of the Disney villains whose dark nature is not evident to any character, even the viewer, until he reveals it. Whereas viewers almost immediately notice the villainous natures of characters, such as Shan Yu and Sa'luk, especially after the first viewing, Rourke merely appears as a disciplined, practical, and composed military figure and semi-assistant to Preston Whitmore, and no one, except for the king of Atlantis (who distrusts all outsiders), distrusts him or notices his villainous nature until he chooses to reveal it. He is sadistic, egotistical, vicious, even-tempered, meglomaniacal, sarcastic, corrupt, immoral, devious, calculating, abusive, dishonest, and sneaky. He is very murderous as shown when he kills the king when he does not tell him where the crystal is, throws Helga out of a flying machine just to lighten the load, and is willing to kills all of the Atlanteans to achieve his goal.
Lyle Tiberius Rourke was born in 1860 in Texas to parents Rourke Sr. and Racheal Lee Rourke and learned the ways of military life at an early age when his father, Rourke Sr., a cavalry officer in the Southern US Army, 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 by lying to his induction officer about his age. 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 of 1887, but his wife left him after only four months. In 1901, he retired from the military.
He held numerous expeditions during his career, most notably leading the Whitmore Expedition to Atlantis in 1914.
- Rourke plays a similar role to Clayton the antagonist from Tarzan as they both first appear to be fine expedition leaders, but later turn out to be evil. However Rourke is more evil of the two as he is willing the steal the Heart of Atlantis not caring that all the citizens of that location will die while Clayton is willing to sells gorillas to the zoo.
- Rourke is similar to a non-Disney villain, Quaritch from the live action movie Avatar. They both have armies. They start out seemingly fine, respectable expedition leaders, but later turn out to to be evil, willing to kill people from that different world to get the precious resource to make money. Rourke wants the crystal from Atlantis. Quaritch wants the minerals from Pandora. They are both distrusted by all of the different world's people. The villains both use the protagonists (by using diplomacy) and from a different world they want the information. When the protagonists they use to help them seemingly insult the villains, they both punch them so hard that they fall down. They both kill the leader of a different land they want the precious resource from. Rourke and Quaritch both taunt the heroes as they try to kill their hero enemies and are are both killed after lifting the hero up in the air during their final battles.
- When Rourke punches Milo, blood is seen on his mouth, this is a Disney movie in which it may have gotten an PG-13 or R rating, Blood is seen on Milo's mouth, Rourke is one of the Disney Villains to psychally and violently draw someones' blood,
- Like the Firebird's death in Fantasia 2000, Rourke died when he was scattered into pieces.
- Lyle Tiberius Rourke's character animator was Michael Surray.
- Lye Tiberius Rourke was born is 1860 in Texas to parents Rourke Sr. and Racheal Lee Rourke and learned the ways of military life at an early age when his father Rourke Sr., a cavalry officer in the Southern US Army, 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 by lying to his induction officer about his age. There, he exhibited a remarkable talent for leadership, owning to his analytical mind, charisma, and refusal to acknowledge the white flag surrender. He married in June of 1887 but, his wife left him after only four months. In 1901, he retired from the military.
- He held numerous expeditions during his career, most notably leading the Whitmore Expedition to Atlantis in 1915.