Sabretooth In Animation - A Retrospective
Part One -
Part Two -
X-Men: Evolution started airing in November 2000, originally on Kids' WB. On this show most of the characters were de-aged, and turned into teenagers. The show loosely followed the comic book stories and pretty much created an entire new universe for these characters. For the most part it was pretty good, though it took a while for the show to "evolve" and reach this status. Luckily Wolverine was one of the few characters who wasn't de-aged, and neither was Sabretooth. Here, Sabretooth was voiced by Michael Donovan, and his design was obviously inspired by the live-action movie X-Men which premiered earlier that year, where he was played by former professional wrestler Tyler Mane. While Wolverine did receive a couple of episodes focusing on his history during the show's run, Sabretooth wasn't as lucky. He appeared enough on the show but his character was never really developed. He has a brief appearance in the episode "Strategy X", the series premiere but has no lines unless you count his growling. He is shown spying on Wolverine from miles away, obviously tracking him down so they can fight. A pretty cool cameo which foreshadows the events from the very next episode.
In the episode "The X-Impulse", we get our first glimpse of how a Wolverine versus Sabretooth battle would look on the show. Here we see Wolverine sense that Sabretooth is getting closer, riding his motorcycle into town and decides to meet him before he reaches Xavier's school. There's a pretty cool short montage with Logan putting on his Wolverine uniform; I really liked the orange and black uniform he wore for the first couple of seasons. Their fight takes place inside a multi-story car parking lot in the city. Sabretooth is shown to have an advantage over Wolverine during this fight, and keeps mentioning that they have unfinished business and that it's their "destiny" to fight and one of them will fall by the other's hand. Cyclops and Nightcrawler have followed Wolverine there and seeing him in danger attack Sabretooth but without too much success. Sabretooth manages to escape before Wolverine has a chance to attack him again, but before leaving he says this was only "a taste of things to come"...
And he was right; he returns in "SpykeCam", where he manages to find out where the Xavier Institute is located, by stealing Spyke's digital camera. Once he reaches the school grounds, he manages to evade the automatic defenses and confront Wolverine once again. He is however literally thrown away when Storm uses her powers against him. He tries to escape, and even manages to evade Wolverine who tried following him. Realizing he will be back soon and that it was his own fault all of this happened in the first place, Spyke puts together some sort of plan to stop Sabretooth, with the help of Rogue and Shadowcat. While I thought his plan wasn't that interesting or great, but in the end it worked; Rogue touches Sabretooth and absorbs enough of his power to leave him unconscious for a while, and also transforms into a "she-wolf" which I thought was a pretty funny moment, and she looked pretty cool. As for Wolverine, he doesn't really get to do that much against Sabretooth, he wrestles with him for a scene or two but that's it. Though I did like how the fight ended: Sabretooth is dropped from the X-Jet at the South Pole (or maybe it was the North Pole, I couldn't tell) to "cool off", as Wolverine mentioned, but also Xavier plays around a little with his mind, most likely erasing the location of the school from his memory. Another thing I liked was that Wolverine called him Creed at one moment, and unless I'm mistaken this was the only time his name was mentioned. Since there was no sub-plot with the Friends of Humanity on this show, I doubt his name was changed from the comics. Then again, they did change Toad's real name so who knows.
Sabretooth's next appearance is probably the best this show had to offer: the episode "Grim Reminder". Here, Wolverine travels to the Canadian mountains hoping he would learn more about his past and the Weapon X program, after being tormented by nightmares and memories of how he got his adamantium skeleton. There, he encounters Sabretooth who has joined forces with a scientist (who constantly calls Sabretooth "Bigfoot"), apparently the one who supervised the experiment that gave him his unbreakable bones. It is revealed that the Weapon X program was meant to create the ultimate mutant slayers, and that all former members of the project had a chip implanted in their brains as a fail-safe, which would re-activate them at any time if necessary. Wolverine is now controlled by the scientist, and sent alongside Sabretooth to fight Shadowcat and Nightcrawler, who accidentally followed Wolverine there by stowing away on the Blackbird jet. Sabretooth confronts Nightcrawler, but is having trouble keeping up with his teleporting abilities. Wolverine finally breaks free from his mind-control and turns against the professor and Sabretooth, resulting in the entire laboratory blowing up. Wolverine obviously survives, and while not showing him escape Sabretooth is still alive as well. Overall, this was the most this show would explain about both Wolverine's and Sabretooth's past lives. It works pretty good but I would have liked at least a hint or something as to how or why they are now mortal enemies. I like a good mystery and I think explaining everything about the Weapon X program would be too complicated, and take away most of the mysterious natures of these characters. The 90s X-Men animated series never explained everything either, but it at least gave us hints once in a while. Overall though, this was probably Sabretooth's finest appearance on the show.
He next appears in the two-part story called "The Cauldron", the first season finale. Here he is shown to be one of Magneto's acolytes, and is sent to battle Wolverine once again. Magneto organized battles between his followers and the X-Men, to see which ones are the strongest, who will then join him in his sanctuary, Asteroid M. Most of the battles lasted only for a couple of scenes, and weren't anything special, but I did like Sabretooth's appearance here. For starters, he uses Wolverine's usual catchphrase of "bub" when he greets him. I thought that was pretty funny. Their fight is pretty much the same as the previous ones on this show: short but entertaining enough. But then comes a twist I wasn't expecting when I first watched the show: Xavier telepathically tells Wolverine he must lose the battle. He reluctantly agrees and tricks Sabretooth into believing he has won. Sabretooth is then transported to Magneto's base, and Wolverine can now form a rescue party with the other "loosers" and go stop Magneto. Another surprising twist comes from Magneto: he has created a machine that can enhance mutant powers, making them evolve faster and become stronger. What he didn't mention was that the machine would also mess with their minds, making them his acolytes. The machine was powered by the Cyttorak gem (you know, the same thing that gave the Juggernaut his powers in the comics). Sabretooth is one of the mutants that enters this machine and the result was pretty interesting: his appearance has become more cat-like now and apparently he has grown stronger as well. His next fight with Wolverine is proof of that. Wolverine is clearly shown to use his claws against him, but he doesn't even manage to scratch him. However he is defeated once again by Storm, who conjures a whirlwind that simply carries him away. By the time of his next appearance he would revert back to his "normal" form; they never gave an explanation though I suppose the effects of Magneto's enhancer were only temporary. I thought his feline appearance looked pretty cool.
While his appearances during the first season were far from perfect, I thought they were still better than his next ones. He appears a couple of times over the course of the next seasons, but for the most part he never really gets to do anything particularly interesting. He is seen as one of Magneto's acolytes, and usually ends up fighting Wolverine. Not really surprising. His next appearance is in the episode "Operation: Rebirth", where an aging Magneto has stolen the Rebirth chamber, which was responsible for the creation of Captain America on this show. The episode is very cool; we get some more flashbacks focused on Wolverine, and see him and Captain America fighting together during World War II. In present day, Wolverine alongside Rogue and Nightcrawler track Magneto down to take back or destroy the Rebirth chamber before he uses it. Sabretooth appears out of nowhere to protect Magneto while he was defenseless inside the chamber; he fights Wolverine for a couple of scenes and is defeated when he is thrown onto a generator which electrocutes him.
Sabretooth is next seen during the "Day of Reckoning" two-part episode and second season finale, once again working for Magneto. In the first part, Wolverine is seen tracking him through the sewers, not knowing he is actually being lead into a trap. Doctor Trask and his team manages to capture Wolverine while Sabretooth escapes; all part of Magneto's plan. Trask has created the Sentinel, a giant robot dedicated to protecting human kind from the threat of the mutants, and wants to test it first on Wolverine. Meanwhile, Mystique who has been posing as Professor Xavier for the past couple of episodes, forces the X-Men to join forces with her Brotherhood of Mutants to fight Magneto's acolytes (Sabretooth, Gambit, Pyro and Collosssuss). The fight takes place in the second part of the story, and since this time Wolverine is absent Sabretooth fights Beast. Their fight is pretty cool, actually. Both of them are shown using their agility rather well but in the end Sabretooth manages to knock out Beast. However he is defeated when Rogue absorbs Beast's powers and simply kicks him out of the picture. Sabretooth doesn't take part in the big battle against the Sentinel robot; he retreats along with the other acolytes, following Magneto's orders.
The third season of X-Men: Evolution introduced a long-running story arc about Apocalypse. Over the course of the season, Mesmero uses various other mutants to gather the keys he requires to unlock the gates behind which Apocalypse is trapped. After the first gate has been opened, Magneto learns about Mesmero's plans in the episode "Under Lock and Key" and tries to stop him; the next artifact he needs is the second half of a stone spider, which is located in a museum in London. Magneto alongside his acolytes (including Sabretooth) break into the museum to look for the stone. The X-Men arrive there as well; this episode unites the five original X-Men from the comics on the same team for the first time. Sabretooth once again fights against Beast; this time he is defeated by a combination of being hit by Cyclops' optic blast, and then having Beast dropped on top of him after he was levitated by Jean Grey. Once the two halves of the Spider Stone have been united, a giant green energy spider appears, which Magneto believes is the key to unlocking the second gate and orders his acolytes to destroy it. Sabretooth receives one more short scene in this episode; he is seen trying to fight off the giant spider. Magneto is the one who ultimately destroys the spider, but then is shocked to learn that Mesmero planned all of this: the giant spider wasn't the key but a guardian trying to protect the second gate from being unlocked, and once destroyed Apocalypse is one step closer from being released.
In "Dark Horizons", the two-part season three finale, Sabretooth gets some more cool scenes, though not exactly fighting Wolverine. Rogue is revealed to be the third key needed to unleash Apocalypse and has been hypnotized by Mesmero into attacking the X-Men, the Brotherhood of Mutants and Magneto's acolytes and absorbing their powers. She gets to fight Sabretooth as well, and defeats him after absorbing Collossus' powers and turning her body into steel. Other than that, there are some really good scenes with Wolverine, Sabretooth and Gambit are sent to track Mesmero and Rogue to the Himalaya Mountains. Their interactions were great; seeing them trying to work together, constantly arguing and ready to beat each other up at any moment. Once they catch up to Mesmero all three of them try to fight him but without success. I wasn't expecting him to be more than a match for any of them, but he managed to defeat them pretty easily. All in all, Sabretooth's interactions with Wolverine in these episodes pretty much made up for his lack of any good fight scenes. Plus, the episodes had a pretty awesome story going on.
His final appearance on the show was in the episode titled "Impact", the season four premiere, but here he really doesn't get to do anything more than showing up. He is still working for Magneto, but he is just seen in the scenes where his acolytes are shown. The episode is pretty awesome though: it features a great confrontation between Magneto and Apocalypse, resulting with Magneto's apparent death. Sabretooth wouldn't appear again on the show, but he would still be mentioned in a couple of episodes. In "Target X", Wolverine and X-23 are being hunted by Omega Red and Gauntlet. Once Wolverine is captured there's a short scene where Omega Red mentions that this is only the start of his revenge, and that his next targets include Sabretooth and Maverick. I thought it was a shame to have him say this, and never follow up with an episode actually exploring their past lives; it's never revealed how Omega Red knew Sabretooth or why exactly he wants this revenge. Sabretooth's is once again mentioned in the episode "Cajun Spice", where Gambit kidnaps Rogue. Wolverine trying to find them and bring Rogue back, inspects the acolytes' last known base where he only finds Pyro, who tells him he doesn't really know where the others left, following Magneto's apparent demise. He mentions that Sabretooth is "out playing with a big ball of yarn somewhere". I thought that line was pretty funny, though I think the scene would have been better with Wolverine meeting Sabretooth instead of Pyro. And that's the last time he's mentioned on the show; he doesn't even appear in the series finale, the big fight with Apocalypse and his Horsemen even though it was mentioned that every character from the past episodes would return.
Overall, I liked Sabretooth on this show but I always thought he wasn't used to his full potential. Though the same can be said about a lot of the other characters as well. While he was never really developed as a character and his origin and history with Wolverine were only briefly mentioned, most of his appearances were cool. I didn't add the times Rogue, having absorbed both his and Mystique's powers, transforms into Sabretooth (I know it happened at least once, in "Self-Possessed"), because she only had that form for a couple of seconds and didn't do anything, and more importantly because it wasn't the real Sabretooth in the first place.