|“||Behold! As the prophecies foretold, the time of judgment is now!||„|
|~ Tzekel-Kan announcing Miguel and Tulio's arrival.|
Tzekel-Kan is the main antagonist of DreamWorks' 3rd full-length animated feature film, The Road to El Dorado.
He was voiced by the legendary actor, Armand Assante.
While charismatic, commanding, authoritative, influential, powerful, and a bit unctuous, Tzekel-Kan is extremely power-hungry, sadistic, persuasive, bloodthirsty, manipulative, and even psychotic. He is a scheming, iniquitous, exploitative, and diabolical person who can perform sacrifice and rituals. He is also very devoted and dependable to worship of the Gods and has an extreme fondness for Ollamalitzli, the Meso-American ball game in which he pits Tulio and Miguel against a team of twelve men to prove their "divinity".
Role in the film
When the Spanish con-men Tulio and Miguel wind-up in the New World with a map that supposedly shows the road to El Dorado, they unknowingly find the hidden entrance to the city: it is hidden behind a large waterfall and marked by a stone tablet with a depiction of the Gods who built El Dorado. They encounter Chel, a native of the city who is trying to escape with a golden pot, only to be apprehended by more natives led by Tzekel-Kan's unnamed servant. The three are brought into the city in boats, amazed that the "Lost City of Gold" really exists. The servant tells Tzekel-Kan - in the middle of a magic ritual - that the "Gods" have arrived, upon which he rushes to announce to El Dorado's people that the "time of judgement is now". He tries to apprehend and punish Chel for running away with the pot, but Tulio and Miguel intervene. Tzekel-Kan is surprised that the gods have denied her being sacrificed.
The pair also meet the kindly Chief Tannabok, who is at odds with the High Priest. Tzekel-Kan insist that the God's arrival marks The Year of the Jaguar, when the city will be purged of all wicked and malevolent people. The people are convinced of Tulio and Miguel's "divinity" when Tzekel-Kan asks them to vent their wrath on the city - just as a nearby volcano is erupting. Tulio shouts at Miguel as they argue what to do and it suddenly stops: to celebrate this miracle, both Tzekel-Kan and Tannabok offer celebrations, to which Tulio and Miguel accept both. They are then taken to their temple the chief showers them in golden gifts.
Serving the Gods
Convinced of Tulio and Miguel being Gods, Tzekel-Kan tries to win their favor, much to Tannabok's resentment. After a wild party on the night of their arrival, Tzekel-Kan offers to please the "Gods" with a sacrifice to Xibalba - a whirlpool which is believed to be the entrance to the spirit world. Chel, however, has seen through their ruse and insists that she have a share of their golden riches given to them by Tannabok in return for her silence. She also asks that they take her with them when they depart the city, as she has wanted to leave before due to Tzekel-Kan's tyranny. The pair accept: they also accept the offer of Tannabok and Tzekel-Kan giving them a "tribute". They soon find out however that Tzekel-Kan's "tribute" is to throw a man into the whirlpool, upon which they insist that the alignment of the stars is not right for sacrifice - they were unaware until then that this counted as a "tribute". The High Priest is baffled, but admits he may have made a mistake. Tannbok then offers a new tribute: throwing golden ornaments into Xibalba. A shocked Tulio and Miguel ask to "bask" in their tribute instead, to which Tannabok complies, much to the annoyance of Tzekel-Kan.
Later, Tzekel-Kan witnesses Miguel interacting with the people of the city and is shocked that a God would mix with mortals. He consults Tulio, who is infatuated with Chel, and tries to convince him that all humans are like spiders and must be eradicated. Tulio is disturbed by this and denies his offers of purifying the city through sacrifice. After this he witnesses Miguel playing a ball game with some children and demands that the "Gods" must face a team of the city's best players in a match of Ollamalitzli. The two are out-matched, but manage to cheat with Chel's assistance, using an armadillo called Bibo as a ball. Tzekel-Kan is vindicated at their victory and demands that the losing side be sacrificed, thus achieving his goal to purify El Dorado. Miguel refuses and "fires" Tzekel-Kan, declaring that the city will no longer have any sacrifice. The High Priest is about to leave when he glimpses a cut on Miguel's forehead: he realizes they are not Gods as Gods cannot bleed. He bows "as the Gods demand", much to the jubilation of Tannobok and the people.
Showdown with Tulio and Miguel
Tzekel-Kan returns to his temple, where he conducts a ritual that will bring a massive stone jaguar to life - thus fulfilling the prophecy of "The Age of the Jaguar". He sacrifices his acolyte to complete the ritual and gains control of the statue, which comes to life and bursts out of the temple. Tzekel-Kan attempts to crush Tulio and Miguel, but they flee on their horse Altivo, taking Chel with them. The stone jaguar rampages through the city, proving immune to the natives' arrows, almost killing Chel when she falls off Altivo's back. But Altivo kicks the jaguar's right eye, which shatters it and allows them to escape. Tulio and Miguel run off on foot to distract the jaguar while Altivo takes Chel to safety. The pair eventually find themselves in a lava pit and manage to trick the jaguar, which causes it to sink into the lava. Tulio and Miguel believe they are victorious until Tzekel-Kan makes the jaguar burst back out of the lava and pursue them all the way to the plinth that looks over Xibalba. With the pair cornered, Tzekel-Kan deactivates his magic and confronts them himself, stating he knows they are not Gods.
The two con-men attempt to fool the High Priest by claiming the other was lying, much to his satisfaction as he sees the friends arguing. This is actually a ruse, as they get close enough to punch Tzekel-Kan in the face, causing to fall backwards onto the edge overlooking the whirlpool. As they charge and make to tie him up with vines, Tzekel-Kan reactivates his magic and the jaguar attacks them again. Tulio and Miguel manage to jump out of the way, swinging over the edge of the plinth on vines, causing the jaguar to land above Tzekel-Kan. Its weight proves too much for the stone plinth, and Tzekel-Kan tumbles - along with the stone jaguar - into the whirlpool below. His magic spell breaks as he is sucked through an underwater cenote and washes up in a river outside the city. The people celebrate at Tzekel-Kan's defeat and cheer for Tulio and Miguel. Miguel decides to stay in the city, but Tulio decides to leave with Chel and the gold, putting the friends at odds.
Alliance with Cortés
As the people prepare a boat to allow Tulio to leave El Dorado with the gold, Tzekel-Kan encounters Hernán Cortés, who followed Tulio and Miguel's trail into the jungle. Looking for gold, Cortés demands to know where Tzekel-Kan obtained his golden ear spools, to which the High Priest offers to lead the conquistadors to the hidden city. He thinks Cortés is the true God, and that by doing this he will finally bring about "The Age of the Jaguar". Tulio, however, spots smoke from the conquistadors' approach on the horizon and warns Tannabok, who realizes that Tzekel-Kan has survived and is leading Cortés to the city. He is ordering his men to prepare to fight, but Tulio says he cannot fight them, as they have muskets and over-advanced weaponry. He devises a plan to drop a massive stone idol over the entrance behind the waterfall, thus blocking access to the city. Miguel looks on as Tulio leaves with Chel and Altivo. However, the boat is unable to sail out of the city and escape being crushed by the falling idol. Tannabok single-handedly manages to hold back the statue with ropes, allowing Miguel to forgo his chance to stay in the city and open the boat's sail, allowing them to escape as the city's entrance is blocked. Tulio and Miguel reconcile as the boat hurtles out of the city.
Meanwhile, Tzekel-Kan has led Cortés and his men to the waterfall, but finds the entrance blocked by an avalanche: Tulio and Miguel crashed the boat against the pillars holding up the entrance tunnel - choosing to sacrifice their gold in the process - in order to ensure the entrance to El Dorado remains sealed. An aghast Tzekel-Kan tries to explain to Cortés, but the angered conquistador declares that the High Priest is "a lying heathen" and that "there is no El Dorado here". He then takes Tzekel-Kan into custody, presumably selling him as a slave afterwards. As they are leaving, Tzekel-Kan spots Tulio, Miguel, Chel and Altivo hiding behind some rocks and tries to gain Cortés' attention, but they ignore the horrified priest and take him to meet his fate.
- Tzekel-Kan uses a book, presumably a codex of some kind, to conduct his rituals for the Gods. There is an image that depicts the God he believes will "cleanse" the city, but confuses him because it looks nothing like Tulio or Miguel: it is later revealed that it looks like Cortés.
- The prophecy of "The Age of the Jaguar" might be meant to foreshadow the fall of the Aztec empire at the hands of Cortés and his conquistadors.
- It is never made clear whether the Gods actually exist and built El Dorado, or whether it was built by human hands. As Tzekel-Kan is able to use magic, this remains speculative.
- Even though Cortes proved to be the bigger threat, Tzekel-Kan served as The Heavy because he was the immediate threat that Miguel and Tulio had to face and his actions drove the plot, which made Cortes the Big Bad and the one behind the plot.