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The Real Reason Sabretooth Was Recast In The X-Men Movies

Fox's X-Men series was revolutionary at its peak, bringing some of Marvel's most famous heroes to the big screen for the first time in an era when comic book movies were a risky proposition. While their first few offerings proved successful, as time went on, the franchise started to lose its luster. Among its many issues — which ranged from confusing retcons to momentum-killing timeline inconsistencies — the most prevalent was its innumerable recasts, which plagued everyone from the main players to side characters.

Some of these cases were entirely justified, as the franchise frequently leaped around its continuity. Later installments, beginning with X-Men: First Class, took place decades in the past, requiring a younger cast to step in. Multiple versions of major characters like Magneto, Professor X, Mystique, Cyclops, and Jean Grey would come and go, simply in the service of what Deadpool would refer to as "confusing timelines." But sometimes, actors would get swapped out for less obvious reasons.

One jarring example is Sabretooth, a.k.a. Victor Creed, who appeared twice in the X-Men series but was portrayed by a different actor each time. First, Tyler Mane donned the claws in 2000's X-Men, and later, Liev Schreiber took up the role for 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine, both of which supposedly exist in the same timeline. Looking at the two side by side and comparing their on-screen personalities, it's as if they are completely different characters. As it turns out, Mane's recasting wasn't without cause — in fact, it happened for a very good reason, as he revealed to THR in March of 2017.

Sabretooth was recast to better suit the plot of X-Men Origins: Wolverine

X-Men Origins: Wolverine puts the spotlight on the titular mutant in the days before he would become an X-Man. In telling his origin story, the film also focuses on his relationship with his brother, Victor Creed, and the bitter dissolution of their sibling bond. As Mane explained to THR's Ryan Parker, the producers made the call to reinvent Sabretooth with Schreiber in the role to make his family ties to Wolverine more believable. "The storyline was them rising as brothers, and Liev [Schreiber] and Hugh look a lot closer in that respect, so I understand," Mane said.

A redesign was necessary and totally justified for Sabretooth, since Tyler Mane's incarnation was just a bit too outlandish and lacked any substantial connection to Jackman's Wolverine. That inaugural X-Men film pitted the characters against each other multiple times, with absolutely no mention of any shared history, so ignoring those events altogether was Origins' best course of action. 

While Mane maintains that he'd "love to get [his] claws back into that role," it remains to be seen if Marvel Studios will ring up any members of the old guard to return for their impending X-Men reboot under the Marvel Cinematic Universe banner. Until then, at least Mane will forever hold the honor of being Hollywood's first live-action Sabretooth, even if his run was brief.