Harris Dickinson, Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, and Stanley Simon in 'The Iron Claw'
(A24)

Zac Efron’s Best Performance Is Getting a Second Life on Max

If you said, “This is Zac Efron’s best work,” people would probably instantly think about High School Musical. That’s his most recognizable work, but it isn’t his best. And now you can stream the movie that truly made Efron one of our best actors out there—for me, at least.

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Efron starred in the A24 film The Iron Claw in 2023 as Kevin Von Erich, the second-oldest brother of the Von Erich wrestling family. A true story about the Von Erichs and the tragedy that struck nearly every single Von Erich brother, the movie was not only an entry point into one of wrestling’s darkest stories but it also showed a completely different side of Efron as a performer. It recently debuted on Max and quickly hit #1 among the streaming service’s movies.

We know Zac Efron can sing. We’ve seen it in the High School Musical series, and he sang in The Greatest Showman, as well. We know he can bring the darkness to a role, as seen in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, when he played Ted Bundy. And we know he is funny. Pick a movie to label as Efron’s funny time to shine (I vote Neighbors)—there are lots of them.

But with The Iron Claw, it was an entirely different playground for Efron. Not only is it an upsetting story to watch unfold, but you have to believe that these boys all love each other above all else, and Efron’s role as the eldest living brother really makes the entire movie work. Efron’s ability to transform his body for a role was also pushed to its limits for this movie, and it works, which is why it is his best film yet. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should!

A story about brothers and loss

The Von Erich family in a huddle in The Iron Claw
(A24)

The Iron Claw follows the rise of the Von Erich brothers as they wrestle in their show, World Class Championship Wrestling. Kevin, David (Harris Dickinson), Kerry (Jeremy Allen White), and Mike (Stanley Simons) all ended up wrestling for their father, Fritz (Holt McCallany), at one point or another, but sadly, their story is not one of success and happiness (not to spoil anything).

You will need tissues to watch this, and The Iron Claw does completely leave out one of the Von Erich brothers, but by the end, it is an emotional catharsis that will make you want to watch it more than once. And all of that boils down to how good Efron is as Kevin Von Erich—well, that and the last scene between Kevin and his own children. (If you know, you’re probably already crying about it.)

While I am someone who believes that the movie was snubbed this award season, you can now make a decision for yourself! The Iron Claw is streaming on Max.


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.