Why The Iron Claw Leaves One Von Erich Brother Out (& What Happened To Him)

WARNING: This article contains mentions of suicide.


Summary

  • The Iron Claw is a film based on the true story of the Von Erich family, focusing on the four middle Von Erich brothers, their rise to fame as pro wrestlers in the ’80s, and the tragedies they faced.
  • The youngest Von Erich brother, Chris, is not mentioned or included in the film, as the director made the tough decision to narrow the focus and merge some of Chris’ personality and role with his next-youngest brother, Mike.
  • Chris Von Erich suffered from health issues and depression, and died by suicide like his brothers Kerry and Mike, at the age of 21 in 1991.

The Iron Claw follows the professional wrestling careers of the famous Von Erich brothers, but one brother is missing from the film entirely. The Iron Claw tells the true story of the Von Erich family, who suffered great tragedy on their rise to fame as pro wrestlers in the ’80s. Fritz Von Erich (Holt McCallany), whose real name was Jack Adkisson, and his wife Doris (Maura Tierney) had six sons together. Their firstborn, Jack Adkisson Jr., died from drowning at the age of six in 1959 after being electrocuted. Though Jack Jr.’s death is mentioned in the film, The Iron Claw focuses on the four middle Von Erich brothers.

Zac Efron stars in the lead role as Kevin, Fritz and Doris’ second-eldest son and the only surviving Von Erich brother. Harris Dickinson plays David, whose cause of death in 1984 at 25 years old was listed as acute enteritis despite rumors of a drug overdose. Jeremy Allen White plays Kerry, the most famous and successful of the Von Erich wrestlers, who tragically died by suicide in 1993 at the age of 33. The second-youngest Von Erich brother, Mike (Stanley Simons), also died by suicide six years prior in 1987, at the age of 23. All but one of the Von Erich brothers is featured in The Iron Claw.

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Chris Von Erich Was Left Out Of The Iron Claw For Story Purposes

David (Harris Dickinson), Kevin (Zac Efron), Kerry (Jeremy Allen White) and Mike (Stanley Simons) Von Erich in The Iron Claw.

Strangely, the youngest Von Erich brother, Chris, is not mentioned nor does he appear at all in The Iron Claw. Sean Durkin, writer and director of The Iron Claw, revealed why Chris was not included in the movie, stating that his absence was purely to best serve the narrative. Durkin explained that he had written Chris into the story in the original script for The Iron Claw (via Entertainment Weekly). However, he eventually had to decide how much of the Von Erichs’ story he could actually fit into the movie. Durkin made the choice to “narrow [the focus]” by omitting Chris entirely, which he described as “one of the toughest decisions [he] had to make.

Instead, in an attempt to “keep the essence of [Chris]” in The Iron Claw, Durkin merged some of his personality and his role in the family with Mike, the next-youngest Von Erich brother. Both Chris and Mike lived in the shadows of their three older brothers, a dynamic that Durkin found especially “interesting.” However, while Mike was somewhat “shoehorned” into wrestling by Fritz after David’s passing, despite expressing little interest, Chris desperately wanted to live up to his family’s legacy, but saw little success in the ring.

What Happened To Chris Von Erich In Real Life

The Von Erich brothers and father hugging in a wrestling ring in The Iron Claw.

Chris Von Erich suffered many health issues throughout his short life, including asthma and brittle bones that prevented him from succeeding as a professional wrestler like his father and older brothers. As a result of his failure to reach the same career heights as his family, Chris fell into severe depression. Tragically, Chris also died by suicide like his brothers Kerry and Mike. He was only 21 years old at the time of his death in 1991, two years before Kerry and four years after Mike.

The Iron Claw

Release Date
December 22, 2023

Director
Sean Durkin

Cast
Zac Efron , Jeremy Allen White , Harris Dickinson , Maura Tierney , Holt McCallany , Lily James

Source: Entertainment Weekly