THE SMOKE SIGNAL

THE SMOKE SIGNAL

THE SMOKE SIGNAL

The Iron Claw movie pins down the facts of the Von Erich family

Released December 22, 2023, The Iron Claw explores the deep effects of masculinity and familial expectations by delving into the complex world of professional wrestling. It was directed by Sean Durkin and features High School Musical star Zac Efron and Shameless star Jeremy Allen White.

The movie follows the Von Erich family, originally known as the Adkisson family. They rose to fame through their father, Fritz Von Erich, also known as Jack Adkisson. Fritz, a successful wrestler and promoter, played a pivotal role in the family’s widespread recognition in the 1970s and 1980s, particularly in World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW). 

However, tragedy soon struck the Von Erichs, beginning with the mysterious death of David Von Erich in 1984 during a wrestling tour in Japan. Mike Von Erich battled with mental health issues and committed suicide in 1987. The youngest brother, Chris Von Erich, frequently dealt with physical illness and tragically ended his own life in 1991. Kerry Von Erich faced several personal struggles and legal issues, ultimately taking his own life in 1993.

The film opens with a thought-provoking question about the principles of victory within the wrestling world. Because I don’t know much about the nuances of wrestling, I felt the movie didn’t fully address this question, leaving me somewhat confused. It soon becomes clear that the Von Erich family’s internal struggles, rather than the physical aspects of wrestling, are the focus of the film. At the core of The Iron Claw lies a sad theme: the prison of masculinity and the endless burden passed from fathers to sons. 

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Sadly, the 132-minute story fails to sufficiently explore the characters’ backstories. The overall narrative of the Von Erichs has a strong emotional impact, even for those who are not familiar with their history. However, because it speeds through tragedy after tragedy, the film leaves little time for viewers to grasp the depth of the family’s pain and grief. Durkin’s script feels rushed, missing the opportunity to explore the more nuanced forces of toxic masculinity and parental abuse that impacted the characters’ fates. 

A notable flaw in the film is the absence of the youngest brother, Chris Von Erich. This decision is unforgivable since it takes away from the effort to portray the family’s struggles. While Durkin might defend this, excluding a significant family member diminishes the film’s credibility. A longer runtime would have better accommodated the complexity of the Von Erichs’ story. 

The Iron Claw offers a glimpse into the world of wrestling and family dynamics, but falls short exploring the emotional landscape. Despite its many flaws, the film still deserves credit for addressing these important themes. A rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars accurately reflects the film’s efforts but highlights its missed opportunities as part of the Von Erich story.

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Nicole Serafin, Copy Editor
Nicole Serafin is a senior at Hart High School and is a new member of The Smoke Signal. She is excited to step into the world of journalism! Nicole enjoys hanging out with friends, family and her dogs, listening to music, watching movies and cooking.
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