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So how about another little wager?


Xibalba is the secondary antagonist turned anti-hero of The Book of Life. He is an ancient, immortal god, the dark ruler of the Land of the Forgotten and the husband of La Muerte. He is introduced when he makes a bet with La Muerte about who the mortal girl Maria would marry - Manolo or Joaquín.


Xibalba is made out of black tar and ectoplasm[2], with green eyes and blood-red skulls for pupils. He has a pair of large, black angel wings, and is the only known entity to have them. He wears black gloves, a regal black cloak covered by a conquistador armor, and a silver crown with horns sprouting from the both sides, topped with black wax candles lit with green flames. When assuming a mortal disguise, he tends to take on the form of an elderly man. Xibalba has a white moustache and beard. Xibalba fingers are long, spindly and appear to be razor sharp. 


Xibalba appears on the surface as sly, cunning and cruel. He is a trickster who will resort to lies and cheating to get his own way such as when he used his snake staff to kill Manolo so he could win the wager by default.

Despite this, he is not pure evil, rather mischievous than malevolent. He is very suave in manner and tends to be well spoken.

He believes that there is little to no good left in humanity and that it is beyond redemption. This may or may not be down to the jaded view he sees from his realm, the Land of the Forgotten.

He claims that the reason he meddles in mortal affairs is because it is the only fun he gets outside of ruling.Though he is calm and confident, he is too proud of himself. When Manolo angered him by shouting " He will pay for what he has done " ( Cheated with a 2-headed snake bite ), Xibalba talks and approaches Manolo with pride stating " No one in any of the realms has ever talked to him in such a way and survived ", taunting him.

Despite his actions throughout most of the story, he truly does care for his wife, La Muerte and will attempt to please her, particularly towards the end. He also gains some form of respect for mortals who impress him.


Xibalba is extremely powerful, as expected from an immortal god. He is shown to be very adept in magical activities. He can quickly teleport from one place to another. He is capable of floating without moving his wings to suspend himself in the air. He can transform into an old man as shown in the part where he changed himself as a mortal and gave Joaquin, his champion, the Medal of Everlasting life. Also, he disguised himself as a Guard of the Museum. This can lead to a fact where he can transform into anything he wishes to be. On the other hand, he can animate objects as proven in the scene where he commanded his 2-Headed Snake Staff to "fix his problem for him". His physical strength is worlds beyond a mortal, as shown in the part where Manolo infuriated him and Xibalba effortlessly sent Manolo flying with a flick of his finger. With the arcane magic he possesses, he can resurrect any soul he wish with the help of The Queen of the Land of the Remembered, La Muerte, and the Keeper of Balance, the Candle Maker.

Xibalba is also shown to be mischievous and cunning. He can clearly think of ways to get things he wanted. He is intellectually advanced in every way and is very good in temptation. The part where he convinced La Muerte unto another bet despite her fury proves this statement. He is also deceitful in a manner where he will cheat in order to win wagers.


La Muerte

La Muerte is Xibalba's wife. They first met each other many thousands of years ago. Xibalba calls his wife La Muerte "mi amor" which is Spanish for "my love". They have a complicated relationship due to their different beliefs and the completely different natures of the realms they rule. La Muerte believes that mortalkind still has some good in it while Xibalba believes there is no good. This causes tension in their relationship as their beliefs are so very different.

Xibalba truly loves his wife and he quite literally melts at her touch. However, he has become very insecure around her ever since he cheated in their previous wager. Xibalba has shown to regret that decision and was more than willing to enter a new bet with her in order to keep her interested. When they first appear, she was shown to be somewhat playful (presumably because it was the Day of The Dead), calling him "my love" and briefly admonished him for almost killing an elderly man despite the end of the old mortal man's life being more or less over. When he begs her to trade realms with him, saying how much he has come to hate his, she gets very defensive, telling him that the only reason he ruled The Land of the Forgotten was because he had cheated in their last wager, and expressed her great disappointment in him for not being the man she'd fallen in love with so long ago.

When he proposed a new wager she was still slightly angry but couldn't help agreeing to it. He bet that if his boy (Joaquin) married Maria, then he would rule over the Land of the Remembered. She, in turn, bet that if Manolo married Maria then he, Xibalba, would stop meddling in the affairs of humankind. When he complained about this, saying that it's the only enjoyment he gets outside of being ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, she was quick to call off the bet. In the end he reluctantly but lovingly agreed, much to her enjoyment.

When it appeared that he was going to lose the wager, Xibalba quickly took matters into his own hands. He set the trap that would end in Manolo's death and as no one other than Joaquin remained for Maria to wed, this secured Xibalba's victory by default. Later, when his wife La Muerte discovered the truth from Manolo, he showed unease at what he had done yet still unwilling to set it right.

In the end, after Manolo and Maria are finally married, he gave his wife, La Muerte a heartfelt apology for his behavior and asked her to forgive him. She gladly accepted and pulled him in for a passionate kiss.

Now, in the present day, he is still on good terms with La Muerte, apparently having renounced his old ways forever and redeemed himself once and for all. When the children from the museum tour leave, he and La Muerte share a tender moment and another very passionate kiss.


  • He is made out of tar and everything icky in the world.
  • Xibalba dated humans before he met La Muerte and that's why he feels about humanity the way he does.[3]
  • Xibalba is European. He came over with the conquistadors.[4]
  • Xibalba is a few centuries older than his wife, La Muerte[5] However he is younger than The Candle Maker.[6]
  • His name comes from the Mayan word or term for the Mayan underworld, Xibalba, which means, "place of fear."
  • Xibalba's blood-red skull eyes can swivel in Xibalba's eye sockets depending on what direction Xibalba is facing.
  • When he and La Muerte kiss at the very end of the movie, his black vulture wings and her sombrero form a heart. 
  • Xibalba can teleport magically by transforming himself into a gooey puddle of black tar.
  • According to animator and director Jorge R. Gutierrez on his Twitter account page he based Xibalba on the Aztec god of the dead, Mictlantecuhtli, who was one of two rulers of Mictlan. Mictlantecuhtli rules Mictlan alongside his wife, the Aztec goddess of the dead, Mictecacihuatl.
  • La Muerte's nickname for Xibalba is "Balby."
  • Xibalba was once a knight in the heavens but he got cocky and was punished. 
  • Xibalba knew Joaquin’s father very well, Captain Mondragon had won him a previous wager with his wife La Muerte.
  • Though, Xibalba has wings, he doesn't necessarily need them to fly.
  • Apparently, when he touches a mortal, it dies.


Concept art

Concept art



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