Like many kids (and adults, too!), 4-year-old Ollie Jones - from Barming, Maidstone - had always been a huge fan of Spider-Man. When he died from the rare disease leukodystrophy in December, his father brought in someone dressed as the superhero for the funeral. He even planned to put an image of Spidey on Ollie’s tombstone.
But Disney said no. While company officials reportedly extended condolences and noted that it was their honour to have contributed to Ollie’s happiness, they cited a policy of banning the use of its characters on “headstones, cemetery or other memorial markers or funeral urns,” in an effort to “preserve the same innocence and magic around our characters that brought Ollie such joy.”
Yahoo has reached out to Disney, which owns Marvel Entertainment, the company behind the Spider-Man franchise, for comment.
Supporters of Ollie’s family have now have started multiple petitions on Change.org, the most successful having garnered more than 6,100 signatures as of Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, more than 12,000 people had signed on to another petition that Lloyd Jones, Ollie’s father, promoted on Facebook.
The U.K.’s The Sun reported that Jones had initially taken the request to his local government in the Kent, England, town of Maidstone and had been told that it had to be approved by the copyright holder.
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He was “shocked” to have his request denied by Disney, he said. “I didn’t really expect it. I just thought they’d be all right with it,” he told the New York Daily News.
Family member Jason Jones shared an image of what the Spider-Man tombstone would look like on his Facebook.
Ollie’s dad said the inclusion of Spider-Man would have been important to his son.
“We spent his last birthday in Disneyland," he said. “And when he was on his death bed, we bought him a Spider-Man... and that stayed with him the whole time.”
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By Raechal Shewfelt, Yahoo Entertainment