Dad Says Disney Refuses to Let Him Put Spider-Man on His Son's Gravestone
After the 4-year-old lost his life to a rare genetic disease, his dad approached Disney. They reportedly told him they wanted to preserve the character's innocence.
As if grieving the death of his 4-year-old son due to a rare genetic disorder wasn't heart-wrenching enough, a dad named Lloyd Jones was devastated to learn that he can't honor his child's memory as he had initially hoped to. Jones reportedly wanted to put Spider-Man's image on this son's gravestone. But given that Disney holds the copyright to the Marvel character, the company had final say over the design, and they refused Jones' request.
According to The Sun, Jones was told that Disney did not want its characters associated with death. Specifically, a representative from The Walt Disney Company’s permissions department wrote: "We extend our sincere condolences. If we played a small part in Ollie’s happiness, we are honored. Generations of fans have responded to our characters with the same wonder and delight that Ollie did. In fact, many believe the characters to be real. We have striven to preserve the same innocence and magic around our characters that brought Ollie such joy. For that reason, we follow a policy that began with Walt Disney himself that does not permit the use of characters on headstones, cemetery or other memorial markers or funeral urns."
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Jones, who is a father of six, told the publication that he wasn't "expecting this," calling it a "massive blow." He said that he was "sure they would allow it."
He concluded that the decision was "all about money."
"Ollie's last holiday was at Disneyland," Jones explained. "He loved Spider-Man and we had bought him all the toys. But now he has died, and we won't be spending any more money, they don't care."
The little boy passed away in December 2018 after suffering from leukodystrophy, a rare, progressive, metabolic, genetic disease that affects the brain, spinal cord, and often the peripheral nerves.
The family incorporated Spider-Man into Ollie's funeral, with the procession led by an attendee dressed as the Marvel superhero. A Spidey design was on his coffin, as well.
The child's uncle Jason Jones noted that the rejection from Disney has had a reverberating effect on everyone who loved Ollie, explaining, "This meant everything to us. My brother’s life has been shattered, it has shattered the whole family. We can’t move on until we have his headstone done—Spider-Man was Ollie’s entire life. He loved it so much. I didn’t expect it to be an issue—my funeral director, who’s also my friend called me and told me they can't do it. I thought he was joking at first. We understand copyright, but I don't see why Marvel would have any issues with this."
In the meantime, the family's community, Maidstone Borough, is backing the family's efforts. A spokeswoman for the Maidstone Borough Council stated, "Sadly, these types of stones have to adhere to copyright, and while we understand this is a very emotional time for the family we have made contact with Marvel to ensure the family are complying with their terms and conditions."
At the time of publication, Disney did not respond to Parents.com's request for comment.