Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Tuesday 05 March |
Saint of the Day: St. John Joseph of the Cross
Aleteia logo
Inspiring Stories
separateurCreated with Sketch.

‘The Iron Claw’: A tragic movie full of inspiration

Zac Efron

Tinseltown | Shutterstock

Cerith Gardiner - published on 12/25/23

With the release of the heartbreaking movie starring Zac Efron, here's a reason it's worth watching.
Without donors, Aleteia's future is uncertain.
Join our Lenten Campaign 2024.

December 22 saw the release of the new film starring Zac Efron, The Iron Claw. The R-rated movie tells the real-life story of the famous Von Erich family of wrestlers.

If you’re not familiar with the name, the Von Erichs were a family of six loving brothers who fundamentally all fought to make their father happy. The patriarch was the former wrestler Jack Adkisson, who went by the name Fritz Von Erich. He’d always dreamed of becoming a world champion, but that title eluded him so he expected (demanded) his sons pick up his mantle.

Tragically, out of all the siblings, the eldest drowned in a puddle aged six, a further brother died from enteritis at 25, and three died by suicide. This left just one surviving brother, Kevin Von Erich, who is now 66.

It is most certainly not a movie for the faint of heart. Not only for the impressive wrestling scenes that look incredibly painful, but also for the stream of brotherly accidents and subsequent deaths and episodes of suicide that will leave you heartbroken.

Faith amidst the heartbreak

Yet, it is a film that is nonetheless strangely full of hope. Even though we know the plight of the brothers, we follow the life of Kevin as he experiences his many sufferings and triumphs. We witness his loyalty and dedication to his family, and it’s only possible to admire him.

Where Kevin gets his ability to continue going as his brothers die, one by one, is impossible to really know. Maybe it’s the fighting spirit that was instilled in him by his father, or the deep faith his mother shared with her children. As Kevin says in the movie: “Bad things kept happening. Mom tried to protect us with God.”

In fact when watching the film you’ll notice the importance of God in the family’s lives. Among all the numerous trophies you’ll notice numerous religious icons. There are also many references to the fact that what happened to the family was part of God’s plan. And it is this faith that has shaped Kevin throughout his life and allowed him to face a future by leaning on his own family of four children and 13 grandchildren.

Brotherly love

While it’s easy for those viewing the movie to see everything the father did wrong, there are lots of things he and his wife did right. They raised sons to love each other, to have each other’s backs, and to believe in each other. As Kevin says in the movie: “Just being together, we can do anything.”

Perhaps this need for sibling unity comes from losing his big brother Jack at such a young age, which made him the eldest in the family. Maybe he learnt at a young age how important family is and how it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Something that seems obvious when you see that his wish as a young man was to live on a ranch with all his brothers.

Sadly that didn’t happen for Kevin. And it’s hard not to shed an ocean of tears when the wrestler shared with his own kids that he was sad because: “I used to be a brother, and now I’m not a brother anymore.”

Thankfully for Kevin there is a lot of joy in his life today — something you can discover at the end of the movie — and it stems once more from everything we hold dear: family.

Support Aleteia!

Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Thanks to their partnership in our mission, we reach more than 20 million unique users per month!

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting and transformative Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Support Aleteia with a gift today!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.