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Western Animation / DC Showcase: Death

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DC Showcase: Death is a 2019 short animated film staring Death of the Endless as a bonus feature on the Wonder Woman: Bloodlines Blu-Ray.

A Starving Artist named Vincent has lost his job and meets a mysterious woman dressed in all black, unaware of who she is and why she's interested in him.

DC Showcase: Death includes examples of:

  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Upon realizing that his cigarettes will burn down all of his unfinished works, including his masterpiece of Death, Vincent begs for Death to at least spare the painting. He then realizes that she already has and thanks her for having the chance to at least complete one work.
  • The Alcoholic: Vincent's failure at becoming a famous artist has caused him to go into a downward spiral of drugs and alcohol.
  • Bedlam House: Downplayed, but we first see Vincent as an adult while he's trying to paint the gates at Arkham Asylum with Vincent even stating he should be glad to be away from there, but we don't actually see inside the place.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: On the bitter side, Vincent is dead, the cigarette in his hand burning his apartment down. All of his dreams, hopes, and unfinished works have literally gone up in smoke. However, on the sweet end, Vincent was able to conquer his demons and complete a masterpiece of Death herself, which was the only work untouched by the fire so that in some way he'll be remembered.
  • Bookends:
    • The first and last of Vincent's masterpieces were of a dark-haired angel.
    • Vincent is introduced as a happy child and reverts to his child self to head into the afterlife, smiling at Death.
  • Break the Cutie: Vincent had one hell of a life. Once a cheerful kid who loved drawing more than anything else, his dreams of becoming a famous artist ended up ruining him. His dad lambastes him and kicks him out for his passion. His art teacher is a sadist who humiliates him in front of the whole class. His wife leaves him after he becomes irritable and despondent, even though she supported him for six years. Finally, he gets fired from his job at Arkham Asylum, leaving him penniless, lonely, and drowning his sorrows with tobacco and alcohol.
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  • Cue the Sun: The sun is rising at the end of the short while paramedics have taken Vincent's corpse out of his apartment.
  • Darker and Edgier: Probably one of the darkest of the DC Showcases, as it deals with a struggling artist fighting his inner demons and it ends with Vincent dying, led to a peaceful afterlife by Death herself.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Death is a sweet lady with skin white as snow and hair black as a raven, and she allows Vincent to paint her to help him conquer his demons (even stopping time so that Vincent's ghost has time to complete it), guides him to rest, and makes sure his painting of her survives the fire.
  • Dead All Along: After Vincent finishes his painting of Death, he notices that time is still...and then turns to see he's dead on the couch with a cigarette in his hand...
  • Dissonant Serenity: It's both eerie and comforting how Death remains perfectly calm even as Vincent realizes he's dead. The way she gently treats him shows that she's seen this many times before, but it also indicates how otherworldly she is.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: It's Death, after all. She froze time so Vincent would be able to complete a masterpiece and takes his hand to the afterlife. She also fulfills Vincent's request to have his portrait of her saved from the fire and leads the now child Vincent into the afterlife.
    Death: (smiling) Shall we go then? (bends down and gives Vincent her hand) Into the mystery....
  • Double Meaning: Death's first words to Vincent are that the cigarettes he's smoking will kill him. She meant both in the sense that he dies from it, and that the fire from said cigarette will destroy all of his artistic creations.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Vincent's father disapproved of Vincent's dreams of being an artist. Presumably, he kicked Vincent out for calling him a failure who hates his life and family.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • As a child, Vincent is drawing a dark-haired girl with angelic wings, reflecting how Death appears to everyone when they're born. At the end, he realizes this and that she had already decided to save his portrait of her.
    • After her short conversation with Vincent, Death says she'll "see [him] around" while opening the door to a flashing siren while gently asking the man standing behind it if he's "ready."
    • On his way home after drinking, Vincent pauses and starts coughing.
    • The first line Death speaks to Vincent is that those cigarettes he's smoking are going to kill him. Sure enough not only does Vincent die with a cigarette in hand, but the cigarette causes a fire that burns all of his unfinished works. Speaking of, the cigarette in Vincent's mouth drops when he sees Death. Another cigarette drops off of his dead body, this time burning up his apartment.
    • From his apartment, Vincent opens the window and sees Death getting mugged by three people. When he goes out there to try and help, Death is standing in front of the door...while in the background there are police and paramedics checking up on a car crash...
    • The demons Vincent hallucinates are made of fire. They symbolize the doubt and depression he went through and foreshadow how all of his unfinished works get burned up.
  • Go into the Light: Vincent follows Death this way once he passes on.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Vincent's ghost smiles — both his adult and child form — when he realizes Death has been looking out for him and will protect his masterpiece, joining Death into the afterlife.
  • Grey Rain of Depression: It's raining on the night Vincent takes Death to his apartment to paint her and also the night that he dies.
  • Head-Turning Beauty: Vincent is dumbstruck when he first lays eyes on Death, letting his cigarette fall from his mouth, and almost immediately asks to get a chance to paint her.
  • Last Request: Vincent's ghost tearfully begs Death to spare his painting of her from the fire caused by his cigarette. He then realizes that Death will do exactly that.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Vincent didn't want to go back to school because he didn't want to turn out like his father- "A miserable failure who hates his life." By present time, Vincent is precisely that.
  • Magnum Opus: Vincent declares his portrait of Death to be the one truly meaningful work of art he's ever produced. The firefighters who came to douse the flames of his apartment agree, calling it a "hell of a thing" on top of its miraculous survival of the fire.
  • Meaningful Name: The artist of the short is named Vincent, like another famous Starving Artist.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The short begins with a younger Vincent in his bedroom, drawing an angel with a crayon before it skips to an older Vincent putting a coat of paint on some iron bars to the gates of Arkham Asylum.
  • Missing Mom: Implied with Vincent's mom. Outside of hearing her voice in the beginning, she's never seen or mentioned in any of Vincent's flashbacks.
  • Motifs: Fire. The inner demons that mock Vincent are made of fire, Death notes that perhaps Vincent lost his "spark" for art, and all of Vincent's unfinished works go up in flames due to his cigarette.
  • Nice Hat: Death first appears to Vincent while wearing a swanky top hat. She gives it to him before leaving.
  • Perky Goth: Death appears in a black ensemble with dark hair, pale skin, and a very sweet and playful personality.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Death is incredibly pale compared to the skin tones of the people around her and has jet-black hair, setting her apart from everyone else Vincent knows. She's also so beautiful, he's utterly dumbstruck when he first lays eyes on her.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • The demons that Vincent hallucinates are representative of the people who made him spiral out to depression (his art teacher, disapproving dad, ex-wife, and the boss who fired him). In one moment, the demons circle him to show he's surrounded by his inner demons.
    • Vincent's first and final masterpieces were of an angel. The first one represents Death watching out for him, and the last one is Death taking him away to the afterlife.
  • Sadist Teacher: Vincent's art teacher mocks Vincent's work in front of the entire class, steps on it, and snidely tells him to pursue another "productive" profession as Vincent leaves thoroughly humiliated.
  • Starving Artist: Vincent. Even Death lampshades the tropes about his past. Justified since she's Seen It All.
  • Tempting Fate: When Death first approaches Vincent, she says that those cigarettes will kill him. He replies that it's the least of his problems. Near the end of the short, his cigarette burns up his apartment, devouring his unfinished art and threatening to burn up his portrait of Death.
  • Time Stands Still: Death creates a space beyond time so that Vincent's ghost could paint her portrait.
  • Visual Pun: Vincent's dreams of being a famous artist literally go up in flames at the end.
  • Wham Shot: Death moving to the side to reveal that Vincent's corpse dead on the couch.
    • At the beginning after Vincent is fired, his ex-boss starts to finish up the job on the gate's color. While he does we pan up to see a sign above the gate that says: Arkham Asylum.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Vincent sees Death about to be ganged up by some people and immediately goes out to rescue her. He had no idea the two people getting angry were dead...just like him.
  • Wretched Hive: The short takes place in Gotham City, the most prominent example of this in DC Comics and we see Vincent in a bar, rundown apartment, and even freaking Arkham Asylum.
  • You Are Not Alone: Death stated that Vincent's life was already determined in the Book of Destiny, so he would die alone as a nobody. But she came to him, gave him a chance to fight his demons and takes his hand to a peaceful afterlife.
  • You Can't Fight Fate:
    • Death sadly proclaims that Vincent's life was already written into the Book of Destiny — that he will die alone in his apartment, unknown, his art devoured by flames — but she came to him to give him a chance to make at least one meaningful work of art and conquer his demons before he passed on and even makes sure said art survives.
    • Same with the three muggers arguing with Death, saying that they didn't deserve what happened to them.