'No movie has made me wanna call my siblings so much': Creators, especially siblings, are having visceral reactions to 'The Iron Claw'

Thumbnail credit: @arigehman via TikTok, @jordylets via TikTok, @a24 via Instagram

Editor’s note: This article contains mentions of suicide or suicidal ideation. Please take care while reading, and note the helpful resources at the end of this story.

(Spoiler alert: This story includes spoilers for The Iron Claw.)

The Iron Claw hit theaters days before Christmas and has since become a buzzy topic of discussion on TikTok and other platforms. In addition to Zac Efron’s physical transformation as wrestler Kevin Von Erich, the colorful array of ’80s hot shorts and professional wrestling ensembles, there’s one particularly gut-wrenching aspect of the film that has caused a stir online: the emphasis on siblings. Well, in the case of Efron’s character, the emphasis on brothers.

Seen primarily through the eyes of Kevin (Efron), the biographical drama follows the Von Erich brothers (Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson and Stanley Simons) as they come up in the world of professional wrestling. Despite reaching career highs, the Von Erichs, who remain inseparable throughout the film, find themselves faced with the effects of the “Von Erich curse” as they each grapple with tragedy after tragedy, all while dealing with their arguably domineering father (Holt McCallany). Kevin eventually becomes the only surviving Von Erich sibling, after losing one brother to a health complication and two to suicide.

'We'll be your brothers, Dad'

TikTok creators, some of whom are siblings themselves, have taken to the video-sharing platform to share their immediate thoughts post-The Iron Claw. In fact, the hashtag #theironclaw currently has more than 224 million views on the app. The final scene of the film, in which Kevin tearfully watches his two sons pass a football around, has left many incredibly emotional.

“I guess it’s because I used to be a brother and now I’m not a brother anymore,” Kevin tells his kids when they ask why he’s crying. To this, they respond, “We’ll be your brothers, Dad.”

'I love you guys so much. I don't know what I would do without you guys in my life'

On Jan. 5, TikTok creator Gia Mariano (@gia.mariano) revealed that she was having “an out of body experience” after watching The Iron Claw. Mariano says she may have reacted so strongly to the film because she had just spent “the best week ever” with her siblings.

“I’ve never experienced a movie so sad in my life,” she says. “No movie has made me want to call my siblings so much and be like, ‘I literally love you guys. I love you guys so much. I don’t know what I would do without you guys in my life.”

TikToker Kez Sexton (@kezsexton) shared a similar sentiment, taking to the video-sharing platform to discuss how The Iron Claw unexpectedly “wrecked” her emotionally.

“It’s about family, right? And it’s all these brothers that just love each other. And they all wrestle together and it’s perfect,” Sexton says in a video posted on Jan. 3.

The Iron Claw director Sean Durkin previously told IndieWire that Kevin made one important request during their first conversation.

“I met him and I loved him even more, but in our first conversation, the first thing he said was, ‘The thing I care most about is that you show how much my brothers and I loved each other,’ ” Durkin said.

'I thought about him a lot'

“This movie is about brothers at the core of it ... I’m a big brother myself,” Efron told Entertainment Tonight, referencing his younger brother Dylan. “I love him to death ... of course I thought about him a lot over the course of this movie and I know that that connection in the movie is something that Kevin Von Erich really appreciated about it, so it makes me proud.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988. You can also connect with a Crisis Text Line counselor at no charge by texting the word “HOME” to 741741. Visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to learn more about the warning signs of suicidal ideation and check out The Jed Foundation’s online Mental Health Resource Center.