Smh. Stan Lee rolls in his grave.
A grieving father has been denied permission to put a picture of Spider-Man on his little boy’s grave because Disney wants to preserve the ‘magic’ of its characters. Marvel superfan Ollie Jones, four, died from a rare genetic disorder last year and was given a Spider-Man themed funeral, featuring a horse-drawn carriage decorated in red and blue balloons. The little boy, of Maidenstone, Kent, had suffered with leukodystrophy for two years and his last holiday had been to Disneyland to meet his favourite superhero. His dad Lloyd Jones asked the council for permission to get an etching of Spider-Man on Ollie’s gravestone as he wanted the image to remind him of his son. Council officials told Lloyd to contact the Walt Disney Company, which owns the Marvel franchise.
But Disney refused to give the go-ahead because the company wanted to preserve the ‘innocence’ and ‘magic’ around its characters. The rejection email from the US-based giant instead offered the devastated family a personalised celluloid frame – effectively an action frame taken from a comic or film – showing a scene from Spider-Man, with a hand-written message to Ollie. Dad-of-six Lloyd said: ‘I really wasn’t expecting this – it’s another massive blow. ‘I felt sure they would allow it.’ Lloyd said the movie giant is trying to ‘disassociate their characters with death’ and felt the decision was ‘about money.’ He added: ‘That makes no sense to me – characters die in their films all the time. ‘I think this is all about money. ‘Ollie’s last holiday was at Disneyland. 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.’ Ollie’s sister Laillah, 6, also suffers with leukodystrophy – a rare genetic disease that damages the brain, spinal cord and often the peripheral nerves – which the little boy died from in December. Writing on Facebook to rally support to reverse the decision, Lloyd said: ‘Kids only matter to Disney when they’re alive and spending money with them.’ Lloyd’s brother Jason Jones, contacted Disney on his behalf because the dad was struggling to deal with his son’s death. 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 honoured. ‘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. ‘Although we cannot grant the family’s request, we would be pleased to commemorate your nephew with a hand-inked, hand-painted, personalized cel that recognises his love for Spider-Man, which will read: ‘For your ——- (nephew’s name), Thank you for letting us share in the magic of your life. Your friends at the Walt Disney Company. ‘We feel privileged to have had him as a fan. [sic]’ Ollie’s uncle Jason said: ‘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.’ An online petition by Lloyd’s old school friend Michael Farrow urging Disney to change its mind has gained almost 1,900 signatures. Maidstone building firm Gallaghers has also offered to donate the headstone if permission is granted.
A Maidstone Borough Council spokeswoman said they would do everything they could to help the family. She added: ‘Maidstone Borough Council is trying to help a family who have asked whether they can place a Spider-Man headstone at the grave of their young son. ‘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.’