Lieutenant Helga Katrina Sinclair is the secondary antagonist of Disney's 2001 animated feature film, Atlantis: The Lost Empire. She serves as second-in-command of the expedition to find the lost continent of Atlantis, and additionally serves as the personal assistant to Preston Whitmore.
The oldest of six children (and the only girl), Miss Sinclair grew up fighting with her fists as well as her wits.
Born in Frankfurt, Germany as the daughter of career officer U.S. Army Major Alexander Sinclair. Extensive travel at an early age, as well as exposure to a variety of cultures and customs (Frankfurt 1884-87, Mannheim 1887-89, Stuttgart 1889-92, Torii Station 1892, Vicenza 1892-93, Camp Zama 1893-94, Yongsan 1894-97, Aberdeen Proving Ground, 1897-1901). Miss Sinclair exhibited exceptional athletic skill at the age of four and was encouraged by her mother to pursue dance.
Instead, with the influence of her father and brothers, Miss Sinclair began learning the combat arts. While stationed in Maryland at age seventeen, she was introduced to Commander Rourke, and after relocating to Fort Dix began tactics and firearms training under him at the behest of her father. Her skill impressed Commander Rourke, as well as her potential (in Rourke's opinion) as a covert agent and spy. She toured briefly with Commander Rourke in August 1903 to continue training.
Married in 1907 to U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Christopher Jenkins. Presumed widowed 1908. First approached by Whitmore Industries (at the recommendation of Commander Rourke) April 1911. Took a position as bodyguard and chauffeur for Preston Whitmore on December 5, 1911. Currently employed in the aforementioned positions by Whitmore Industries.
Helga was created to be the femme fatale of the group of characters in the film. She had to appear graceful as Whitmore's personal assistant while also being a tough-as-nails commander during the expedition. Writer Tab Murphy noted her conception was influenced by noir films, harking back to those featuring the likes of Humphrey Bogart interacting with a platinum blonde or smoking, mysterious babe.
The filmmakers believed Helga was a chance for them to design a character that would appear straight from a comic book. For her illustrations to evoke the graphic art style, she was animated and cleaned-up almost exclusively at the animation studio in Paris. This was an interesting case as all of the other characters were animated and cleaned-up at the Burbank studio, meaning the filmmakers had to pay extra attention that her animation fits seamlessly with the others when previewing her scenes.
The supervising animator of Helga was Yoshimichi Tamura. A French-Japanese animator working at the Paris studio at the time, he added influences of the anime style of animation and design into the character. The voice of Helga was performed by Claudia Christian. Helga was one of the few characters with a performer hired to do video reference for the animators in Dawn Heusser.
Miss Sinclair is skilled as a coordinator and drill instructor. She also possesses an analytical mind ideally suited for strategy, tactics, or campaign planning. Her charisma, combined with her intelligence and aggressive nature, makes her an excellent trainer and enforcer.
Helga is Commander Rourke right hand woman; when her commanding officer issues and order, Miss Sinclair makes it her personal business to see to it that everyone in her command follows it to the letter. She is levelheaded in a crisis (see attachment re San Domingo, 1904) and highly skilled in many forms of small arms combat; studied Aikido in the Philippines under Moreihei Ueshiba 1904-07, attaining the rank of Yudansha-Yodan. Expert in disciplines of Henka Waza, Tanto Dori, and Tachi Dori.
Skilled in tactical combat, knife fighting, Colt throwing knife, bo staff, kama, field tanto, katana, as well as most conventional small arms. She has been taught rifle and shotgun at Quantico, Virginia, 1911. Despite her skill, she is still far weaker than the likes of Lyle Rourke, as shown when she is embarrassingly outclassed by him in combat.
Role in the film
- “I came down the chimney. Ho, ho, ho.”
- ―Helga Sinclair
Helga participates in the expedition that locates the Shepherd's Journal in Iceland. Being Commander Rourke's most trusted ally, she is privy to his secret objective in locating a giant crystal pictured in the book and selling it on the black market for a hefty price. Whitmore sends her to retrieve Milo James Thatch so that he would step in for his deceased grandfather Thaddeus Thatch in guiding the expedition to find Atlantis.
Serving as second-in-command of the expedition, she carries out Rourke's orders and later operates the Aqua-Evac carrying the executive members of the expedition when escaping the Leviathan after it destroys the Ulysses. Upon the discovery of Atlantis as a still thriving civilization, Helga expresses hesitation about the mission now that there are living people present. Nevertheless, she continues to follow Rourke in proceeding with locating the giant crystal, discovered to be the Heart of Atlantis and the power source keeping the city alive.
She is present in witnessing Princess Kidagakash being infused with the Heart of Atlantis and is steadfast in her loyalty to Rourke after Milo pleads with the rest of the expedition to reconsider their actions. She and Rourke are on the Gyro-Evac that would carry them and the crystal back to the surface when Milo and the others return to engage in battle.
After Milo crashes his Ketak into one of the balloons, it begins to descend. After emptying the Gyro-Evac in an attempt to lighten the load, Rourke suddenly tries to throw her off to get the balloon ascending. Helga manages to swing back on and kick Rourke around for breaking their partnership, but Rourke quickly and easily overpowers her, grabbing her foot and with the words "nothing personal," throwing her off the balloon, making her fall from an enormous height. She manages to survive long enough to get even with Rourke by firing a flare gun at the main balloon, thereby preventing him from ascending any further to the surface. As an added irony, she also repeated Rourke's final words to her just prior to firing her gun.
While her exact moment of death is not witnessed, she is presumed dead given the circumstances of having been thrown from an extraordinary height. If not, she was consumed by the lava once the volcano erupted.
- Helga is, so far, the only blonde female Disney villain.
- She is the youngest female Disney villain to date, being roughly the same age as Milo.
- Despite Helga hitting the ground from a great height, there is no blood or gore visible. It is likely the blood or gore was censored as it would be disturbing for young children at the time. It would’ve gotten a PG-13 rating
- When meeting Milo and answering his question of how she got into his locked house, she states that she came down the chimney before giving a sarcastic "Ho ho ho". This was a reference to Santa Claus.
- Kirk Wise revealed that had a direct sequel been made, rather than the direct-to-video film, Helga would have been the main villain; having been turned into a cyborg and lead an army of mercenaries to take back Atlantis.
- Her fate of being thrown off a balloon to "alleviate weight" by her boss was similar to that of Fidget the Bat, though unlike the latter, she ultimately managed to exact revenge on her former employer afterward.