Disney has come under fire after denying permission to a grieving father, who wanted to place an image of Spider-Man on his four-year-old son's grave. The company said it wanted to preserve the "magic" of its characters.
As Metro reported, four-year-old Ollie Jones was a Marvel superfan and had a Spider-Man themed funeral after dying last year from a rare genetic disorder called leukodystrophy. After the boy's passing, his father asked a local town council for permission to have an etching of Spider-Man placed on the little boy's gravestone, but was told he needed to contact the Walt Disney Company.
As the report noted, Disney, which owns the Marvel franchise, refused to give its permission because it wanted to preserve the "innocence" and "magic" of its characters. The company instead offered to send a movie frame of Spider-Man with a personalized message to the family instead.
As the New York Post noted, a representative for the company said Disney has had a longstanding policy to deny the use of its characters on headstones, which dates back to Walt Disney himself.
The explanation did not sit well with Lloyd Jones, the boy's father.
"That makes no sense to me – characters die in their films all the time," he said, adding that he believes the decision was "all about money."
The boy's family said he found much joy in Spider-Man during his brief life, and the family's last vacation was to Disneyland. The boy's funeral also had a Spider-Man theme, with blue and red balloons.
The decision has led to a backlash against Disney, with many sharing the story on social media and calling on the company to allow the family to use the Spider-Man headstone.
As Metro noted, Ollie's uncle, Jason, also spoke out against Disney in a Facebook group trying to raise support for the company to reverse its decision.
"We can't move on until we have his headstone done – Spider-Man was Ollie's entire life. He loved it so much," Jason said.An online petition calling for Disney to reverse its decision about the boy's headstone has collected more than 5,000 signatures and got a major boost from stories highlighting the family's attempts to get Disney to authorize the headstone.
The family continues to struggle after the death of 4-year-old Ollie Jones. As the New York Post report noted, Ollie's sister, 6-year-old Laillah, also suffers from leukodystrophy, the same disease that killed her brother.