|“||You... You have distinguished yourself in battle, amigo! You are worthy in my eyes! You may use this ship, the Black Skull, anytime you like.||„|
|~ Cortez acknowledging Mario as worthy of riding his ship|
|“||That reminds me, amigo... If you ever get the urge to return to Keelhaul Key, just say the word, okay? I will send you to the island faster than the fastest winds blow, comprende?||„|
Cortez was a minor antagonist of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, serving as the central antagonist of Chapter 5.
It is unknown what Cortez looked like prior to the game's events. Cortez Appears in the game as a giant skull wearing a Pirate's hat with solid blue eyes. This contrasts him from his crew who assume the form as blue fire ghosts. In battle, he has skeleton arms utilizing his four weapons (Hook, Sabre, Rapier, and a Cutlass). In his second form, he has a skeleton body resembling a serpent.
Cortez initially acts likes a traditional ghost, talking in a moaning, spooky voice to warn anyone who approaches his ship. When encounter, he quickly reveals his true personality as a cold-hearted pirate. He talks with a pirate dialect and wastes no time battling Mario. Though he is revealed to be somewhat honorable after defeat as he concedes defeat and takes time to listen to Mario, rather than continuing the battle unnecessarily as he is immortal. After the chapter, Cortez seems to lighten up, becoming passive and friendly towards others.
1000 years prior to the game, Cortez was a ruthless pirate who stole treasure and killed the lives of innocents. After the defeat of the Shadow Queen, Stalwart Koopa tried to hide his Crystal Star, yet he was weakened due to the Shadow Queen's curse. Consequently, this lets Cortez easily defeat Stalwart Koopa and take the Crystal Star. Soon enough, Stalwart Koopa would become trapped in a black box on Keelhaul Key. The Crystal Star got lost among Cortez's treasure as Cortez was clueless about its power and importance, leading him to not care about it as much as his other treasures. From here, it can be inferred that at some point, Cortez died with his Crew, but their spirits were still bound to their treasure, causing them to still wreak havoc as a ghost ship, but while they were at their Head Quarters of the Pirates Grotto in Keelhaul Key, one of Flavio's Ancestors came to the island and stole Cortez's most important treasure, the skull gem which allowed the ship to move. This action caused Cortez and his crew to be stuck on Keelhaul Key. To prevent this from happening to any other treasure, Cortez sent his ghostly crew to sink any ship that nears the island, leading the island to gain an infamous reputation of a no man's land island, as many people never returned after setting sail for the island.
After Chapter 4, Mario finds out that the fifth Crystal Star was located on Keelhaul Key. He gets a crew together to set sail for the island, including Flavio, Papatch, and Admiral Bobbery. Unknown to them, Lord Crump snuck on the ship, assuming an alias "Four Eyes." It takes them a few days to get close to the island, but a night before they were to arrive, the ghost or Cortez's crew attacks the ship, sinking it. The Crew gets in two groups, one large, on small. They wash up on Keelhaul Key and set up a camp over the next few days. When the player resumes control of Mario, an argument breaks out between Flavio and Papatch, their turmoil assumingly attracts the attention of the ghosts, leading Mario to fight them. After their victory, the crew elects Mario and his partners to explore the island. During this they find the missing crew members being attacked by ghosts, Bobbery sacrifices himself to save Four Eyes and a green Toad. Mario ends up not escorting the other back and instead saves Bobbery when he was defeated by the ghosts. After a dilemma with Bobbery, Mario and his partners, including the new addition of Bobbery, brings Flavio to the entrance of Pirate's Grotto, using his skull gem and Bobbery's skill to get inside.
In Pirate's Grotto, Cortez sends spooky messages to Mario, constantly warning him to get out or else he would perish. Mario and his partners ignore the warnings and make their way to Cortez's Pirate Ship where Four Eyes mysteriously was, telling Mario that Cortez was probably inside. When Mario and his Partners go in, Cortez appears and breaks his act as a spooky spirit, stating that Pirates don't moan and instead kill innocents, taking their treasures. reveals himself to be much different from the rest of the ghost, being skeleton wearing Pirate Accessories rather than mere ghosts assuming the form of Blue Fire. Cortez immediately assumes Mario was there to take his treasure, which wasn't completely false. He initiates a battle with Mario. In battle, Cortez uses four different weapons to attack Mario and his partners, all having different specialties such as the hook poisoning. He doesn't have much HP, but upon falling, he assumes a new form. In his second form, Cortez uses no weapons and instead flicks bones at Mario and his partners, occasionally charging the attack. Again, after defeat, he changes his form, this time being a skull separated from his weapons, controlling them with his magic. All of his weapons will attack the same turn he will, letting him attack 5 times technically, though the weapons have little HP. After Defeat, Cortez acts like he is disappearing, but breaks the act, claiming that he can't be defeated, but he is honorable enough to concede defeat, and admits that guarding his treasure was as boring as death. He then listens to how Mario only wants the Crystal Star, leading him to be confused as he still didn't know the value of the Crystal Star. He lets Mario have it and then throws him out.
Mario then returns to the front of Keelhaul Key, using Bobbery to open a shortcut from an area of Pirate's grotto, close to the ship of Cortez. he makes up with the crew, revealing he didn't take the treasure, leading Papatch to get mad, but not too mad as he does like that Mario wasn't greedy for to take all of the treasure that he didn't need. The crew are at a loss about how they are going to escape when they are suddenly interrupted by the sound of cannonballs, where Four Eyes reveals his true identity as Lord Crump and reveals to be the bigger bad of the chapter. He threatens Mario to hand over the Crystal Star or else he will destroy the Island via their ships cannon which is firing in the ocean for intimidation. Flavio then has Mario lead him to Cortez to hope for support. Cortez arises to see Mario, asking if he forgot something, but Flavio interrupts, nervously requesting Cortez to lend them his ship to counter the X-Nauts. Cortez explains that the ship can't move as the treasure that controls the ship was stolen long ago, the treasure being called the skull gem. Flavio, having the treasure from it being passed down his family line, presents the treasure. This causes Cortez to become enraged, stating that he was going to take revenge upon Flavio, however Flavio threatens to throw the treasure in the ocean, causing Cortez to have no choice but to accept the deal, not to his disliking completely though as this lets his ship function and it allows him to stop the cannonballs which he found annoying. Flavio's crew then gets on the ship along with Cortez's. Cortez sails the ship through the island mountainside and engages Lord Crumps Ship. After locking the two ships, the crew engages and Mario fights Lord Crump. After the X-Nauts are defeated, Cortez returns part of the crew back to Rogueport, the other crew staying behind to live of Keelhaul Key. Cortez's ship is fast enough to transport them in a single day, which differs from a several days journey on a normal ship. After this, Cortez stops cursing Keelhaul Key and stops his villainous acts. He acts as a transport between Rogueport and Keelhaul Key. After the story concludes, Cortez sails the great seas with Bobbery as well as transporting others to and from Keelhaul Key.