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

‘The Iron Claw’ Shows What It Means To Break the Cycle

While The Iron Claw brings the story of the Von Erich family to people who may not know who they are, it also provides us with a unique look into how the next generation of the family actively did better than the one before it. A fictionalized look at the Von Erichs, it’s still a beautiful story of brothers who loved and cared for each other despite the odds.

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Starring Zac Efron as Kevin Von Erich, the movie had a central theme of sharing your emotions. Jack “Fritz” Von Erich (Holt McCallany) tells his sons to not show emotions, even when they lose a sibling. The death of David Von Erich (Harris Dickinson) isn’t even enough for Jack to let them have a moment of reprieve to just be and have a moment to break.

When Kevin pleads with Jack to talk to Kerry (Jeremy Allen White) when he is at his lowest, both of his parents put it on Kevin to deal with his brother because caring is not their problem in that moment. For all Kevin’s concern for his brothers, their parents consistently say to deal with it among each other and never let their emotions show. But what we see throughout the movie is Kevin trying to break the cycle of what his parents are instilling in them.

This is driven home by the end of the movie when Kevin finally snaps to his father, breaking the “no emotions” and machismo rule of the Von Erich family and leaving the audience with a man openly showing emotion to his boys and sharing the pain he’s going through. The final moments of The Iron Claw show us exactly how Kevin isn’t continuing his parents’ ways.

A changed man

Zac Efron holding up the belt in the Iron Claw

In the final moments of The Iron Claw, we could have seen Kevin Von Erich showing the same kind of macho energy that Fritz instilled in his sons. Instead, he sits watching his two boys playing together and sees the brotherly love that they share and remembers the love he shared with his own.

There, he sobs. He breaks and lets the emotions flow through him and doesn’t hide those tears away from his boys, even sharing exactly why he’s upset—something that Fritz would have never done in front of his own boys or at all. Kevin, in that moment, is sharing his emotions, letting his boys know that feeling is okay and sharing what they are going through is healthy.

Seeing that in the final moments of The Iron Claw and knowing that he’s taking all the things that his parents instilled in him and making sure he doesn’t repeat the same pain with his own children is one of the reasons why the end of the movie works so well. He is a man who lost his brothers, who was in pain, and he could revert to what he always knew, but he changes for the better, and it is what is so hopeful in the midst of the pain that Kevin has gone through.

(featured image: A24)

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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 current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.