Unlike most other movies, the movie Atlantis: The Lost Empire is based on an actual historical event. Atlantis was a mythical island city that was a haven for pirates and criminals from all over the world. The location was used in an episode of the TV series Heroes.
In the season three episode of Heroes, called "The Night of the Wolves," Luke Bateman's character Charlie Larkins is hired by a group of Americans to recover a crew member. Unfortunately, the mission fails and Larkins is held captive by bandits and held hostage for two days.
As the two-day standoff progresses, the pirates try to get Larkins to take one of them, but he refuses, believing that they are a group of serpentine "sea serpents." One of the bandits tries to kill Larkins, but he easily overpowers him. When the bandits demand money for their bodies, Larkins gives them all the money he has in his wallet and they leave. Since he killed the bandits, he is honored by the group for this deed.
In this episode, Larkins decides to follow them because they are heading to an island where he believes the Legion of Merit, a group of merchant pirates that he belongs to, is located. It turns out that the pirates are taking part in a race that has similar structures to the sailing race that he is competing in.
On the way, Larkins finds a group of villagers that he believes to be the legion. Once he enters the village, however, he discovers that it is not his legion that he is following, but a villainous member of the Legion of Merit. As the villain claims that he has killed his henchmen, a knight and his squire are killed by the villain's men.
This event forces Larkins to find the rest of his team, which is already at sea. They become confused when the other man left and search for the man on the island in an attempt to find where the villains have gone. When they find them, however, they are surprised to find that they don't belong to the legion and that the man who claimed to be the captain is actually a dead ringer.
They leave to look for clues on their own, but are unable to find any. The village lead them to a temple where they are taken prisoner. They are then taken to a mysterious cloaked figure, who claims to be an ancient leader of the Legion of Merit.
The cloaked figure reveals to them that their leader is no longer among the living, so they must return to the island to continue the quest. He explains that the island is being used as the gateway to the Lost City of Atlantis, a mystical land where the ancient and resurrected Egyptian pharaohs ruled.