You never cease to amaze me, mi Amor


Xibalba is the secondary antagonist-turned-anti-hero in the film, The Book of Life.

He first entered the plot of the film when he and his wife La Muerte made a bet concerning which of the mortals, Manolo Sanchez or Joaquín Mondragon would marry Maria Posada.


Xibalba is made out of black tar and ectoplasm [4], with green eyes and blood-red skulls for pupils. He has a pair of large, black angel wings [5]. 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. Xibalba has a white moustache and beard. Xibalba's fingers are long, spindly and appear to be razor sharp. 

When assuming a mortal disguise, he tends to take on the form of an elderly man. 


Xibalba appears on the surface as sly, cunning and cruel. He is a manipulative trickster who will resort to lies and cheating to get his own way such. 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", 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. He's quite capable of selfless love and admitting when he's been proven wrong.

Jorge Gutierrez has described him as the jealous type [6].


Xibalba is extremely powerful, as expected from an immortal god. He is shown to be very adept in magical activities. It is also shown that Xibalba is deceitful, cunning and very intelligent, being able to devise elaborate plans that tilt the scales in his favor. Your knowledge of a person's nature makes it easy for him to manipulation.

  • He can quickly teleport from one place to another by transforming himself into a gooey puddle of black tar.
  • He is capable of floating without moving his wings to suspend himself in the air.
  • He can transform into anything he wishes to be; as in an old man or a guard of the Museum.
  • 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. 
  • He can teleport others to any place he wants, such as when he sent Manolo to the bullring in the Land of the Remembered with a snap of his fingers. 
  • 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 Candlemaker.


La Muerte

La Muerte is Xibalba's wife. 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.

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.

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

The Candle Maker

They seem to be good friends, although they have not been seen to interact much on the screen. Near the end, The Candle Maker embraces both La Muerte and Xibalba, proving he has no grudge against for the latter's trap in his bet with La Muerte. Instead, Xibalba seems to find him irritating and annoying, but tolerable.

El Chamuco

He is the older brother of Xibalba. Both have a sibling rivalry [7]. Xibalba usually makes bets with the Chamuco; one of which ended with the champion of Xibalba, Captain Mondragón, being sent to the Land of the Unknown [8].

La Noche

She is the twin sister of La Muerte. There was a time when Xibalba was interested in her and tried to woo her. But by the time she began to pay attention to him, Xibalba had already fallen in love with La Muerte [9].

Captain Mondragon

Xibalba knew Joaquin’s father very well, in fact the Captain Mondragon had won him a previous wager with his wife La Muerte [10] [11]. If both were get to form a friendship it is not yet clear. It is unknown how affected to  Xibalba the fact that his champion was sent to the Land of the Unknown.


  • He is made out of tar and everything icky in the world.
  • 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.
  • His name comes from the Mayan word or term for the Mayan underworld, Xibalba, which means, "place of fear."
  • Xibalba was once a knight in the heavens but he got cocky and was punished [12] [13].
  • Xibalba dated humans before he met La Muerte and that's why he feels about humanity the way he does [14].
  • Xibalba is European. He came over with the conquistadors [15].
  • Xibalba and La Muerte met on earth at a party where both pretending to be human [16].
  • Xibalba was already ruling the Land of the Forgotten when he meet la Muerte [17].
  • Xibalba discovered La Muerte's fondness for wagers when he made a bet that he will win her heart, which he did [18].
  • Xibalba is a few centuries older than his wife, La Muerte [19] However he is younger than The Candle Maker [20].
  • 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 wings and her hat form The Sacred Heart (El Sagrado Corazón). 
  • La Muerte's nickname for Xibalba is "Balby."
  • Though, Xibalba has wings, he doesn't necessarily need them to fly [21].
  • Apparently, when he touches a mortal, the person dies.
  • He was completely faithful to La Muerte while they were separated [22] [23].
  • Xibalba took a punishment for La Muerte, and as a result his whole body was burned (the reason for his burned angel wings), which made her all devastated [24].
  • A quote from The Art of the Book of Life: “His flames burn green with envy. The only red in his design is in his skull-shaped irises, because he only has eyes for La Muerte" [25].


Concept art