This may make you cry.
Jeffrey Baldwin is a Toronto child who died of starvation in 2002 after severe abuse at the hands of his grandparents. The grandparents were convicted child abusers but Jeffrey and several siblings were still handed into their care by a children’s “aid” organization. He and a sister were locked in a room and forced to live in their own filth. And worse. In happier days, the boy was a Superman fan who was even photographed wearing the classic uniform.
A Toronto man was so moved by this story—revealed in a long delayed inquest into the death earlier this year—that he comissioned a statue of Jeffrey wearing a Superman uniform.
However, when he asked for permission from DC to include the Superman logo, it was denied.
DC’s senior vice-president of business and legal affairs, Amy Genkins, told Boyce in an email that “for a variety of legal reasons, we are not able to accede to the request, nor many other incredibly worthy projects that come to our attention.”
DC did not immediately return a request for comment.
For Boyce, it was a huge blow, as he felt the Superman aspect was a crucial part of the bronze monument, which will include a bench. The coroner’s inquest heard from Jeffrey’s father that his son loved to dress up as Superman.
Okay I get it. Legal reasons. It’s still kind of sad.
“I’m sort of empathetic to (DC’s) point of view on this, but I feel very strongly that the image of Jeffrey is so powerful,” said Boyce. “It’s the image of a vulnerable boy dressed up as the most invulnerable character in the universe. So I just feel like there’s something lost if we change it.”
Boyce said he was empathetic to DC’s stance because he felt they did not want the Superman character associated with child abuse.
I get that too. But still sad. Superheroes are aspirational character who help get kids through trauma as larger than life figures with larger than life heroism.
Boyce is going to have the “S” on the statue changed to a “J” for Jeffrey.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.