The Pokemon Sword and Shield Charmander isn't a pipe-dream: the gen-one fire starter is in the game, and you can evolve it into a Charizard to match Leon's and bring a classic powerhouse to Pokemon Sword and Shield. Squirtle is clearly the better starter - he had sunglasses, after all - but until then, Charmander will do well enough. Here's how to get Charmander in Pokemon Sword and Shield, and how to evolve Charmander into Charizard, the dragon Pokemon that's not actually a dragon. Go figure.
Warning: there are minor story spoilers below!
How to get Charmander in Pokemon Sword and Shield
In order to get Charmander in Pokemon Sword and Shield, you need to beat the game. Yep, that's the first step; defeat Leon and become Champion, then Charmander will become available to you... if you know where to look.
When you're Champion and you wake up back in your house in Postwick, to get Charmander you need to run over to Hop's house over the road. Enter through the front door, run upstairs and ignore the old lady on the landing, then go right into Hop's room. There's a Poke Ball on the floor.
That's right, getting Charmander is as simple as picking it up off Hop's floor. If you read the note attached, you'll learn that Leon left if for you as a gift. Quite why he'd leave it on Hop's bedroom floor and not your own is a mystery, but nevertheless; thanks!
How to evolve Charmander into Charizard in Pokemon Sword and Shield
Now if you want to evolve Charmander, it's actually fairy simple. When you get the Fire-type Lizard Pokemon, it's only level five, which is pretty low to say you've just become Champion with Pokemon that are likely level 70+.
Charmander evolves into Charmeleon at level 16, then evolves again into Charizard at level 36. Simply enter a battle with a high level Pokemon with Charmander first in your party, then switch it out straight away before it can take a hit. When you defeat the Pokemon, Charmander should get a stupendous amount of experience points and shoot up in levels. If it doesn't hit 36 after one battle, simply keep defeating wild Pokemon or trainers in the Battle Tower until it does. Char!