For starters, there is discourse when it comes to Laurel Lance from a vocal minority within the Arrow fandom. It is either the shippers who are so invested in their romance or hatred for the actress due to plausible interference of their ship that they cannot see the depths of the character.
They call [Laurel Lance] boring, horrible, and make up so many alternative facts to make themselves feel better and more validated and never stop to see the character for who she is. But that is not surprising. They are like this everywhere. Especially when it has to do with comics. If you are not flashing your chest or have a suit expressing your curves, they don’t care for you. Plus, they are dense so it is by no surprise that they don’t understand the layers and history behind Dinah Laurel Lance. Not just the show, but the character that has been around for decades.
If you are someone who thinks that Black Canary is only fishnets, sass, and a sonic cry, you have failed to capture who the character truly is and what she stands for.
Just a few weeks ago, Birds of Prey writer Gail Simone made a thread in honor of the Black Canary’s 70th anniversary. A thread that personally made me cry. She understands Dinah and sees her the way she should be seen. It was a phenomenal thread that is a must read. Link below.
All right, here's the deal. I always loved #BlackCanary as a reader, long before I went pro.
— GAIL SIMONE (@GailSimone) June 12, 2017
To begin the breakdown of how Laurel Lance is not only comic book accurate, let’s start with her heroic journey which extends far beyond her getting the mask. When we met Laurel, she was just a lawyer working at CNRI. We had no other information about her until Oliver and her had their first conversation. After losing her boyfriend and sister in the same accident, and finding out he was sexing up her sister, her father neglected her and became an alcoholic and her mom just left, so she picked herself up and became a lawyer.
As someone who has been cheated on before, I know how hard it is to pick yourself back up and keep going, and to hear Laurel accomplished all of that after everything she endured, it is not only heroic and inspiring, but mentally strong. Something that Dinah is. Another example which is one of my favorite journeys is how Laurel overcame alcoholism and used being a vigilante to fuel the void that had been inside her for years. Such a heroic and inspiring journey and again, showed how mentally strong she was.
She is often seen as the moral compass for the teams she is apart of. In Justice League of America: Rebirth, Batman even brings her aboard their team to keep everyone in line. Her tough mental strength and drive to keep going are qualities many admire about her. There are many examples throughout the comics that showcase this.
Dinah being the moral compass of things may be one quality many admire, but her main quality is her selflessness and giant heart. In the show, Laurel shows this multiple times with all the characters. She kept Oliver alive on the island several times. She helped him when he was in a rut, helped him when he was feeling down about Felicity. She helped him see things clearly. She did all of this knowing he cheated on her. Even when he was incredibly ableist towards her. This man was horrible to her and she still wanted what was best for him.
For Thea, she was like Thea’s backbone. She was always there for her when she had no-one. Constantly looking out for her like when she got arrested for a DUI. She got her community service instead of an orange jumpsuit. She took her in when Oliver left the city to go play house with his girlfriend. She was always there for her when others weren’t.
For Diggle, when he was going through his battle with Andy, Laurel talked with him. Laurel helped him. Sara and her father are two people who never deserved her love or help after how they’d both treated and hurt her. Yet she always welcomed them with open arms, helped them, and loved them unconditionally.
When Felicity was upset about Oliver, Laurel comforted her. Maybe not the best example, but she was emotional support for everyone on the team, no matter how close they were. Even people she didn’t know, like the girl Oliver impregnated. It takes a lot of heart and guts to look the girl your boyfriend was cheating on you with and comfort them. She didn’t have to help, but her love for helping others was put in front of it all. In that episode, we saw that it hurt her, how it stung her, but she still helped and comforted Samantha. Putting everyone’s needs above her own, yet again. Like the time she took in that little boy who the mob was after. Took him in with no questions asked. Helped him stay afloat until they found him a good home.
Or the time the city was in peril with the Undertaking. Many say this was selfish and the reason why Tommy died, but let’s not forget his father is the one who did this all. Laurel went back to CNRI to save the files because she knew all of the families in the Glades were about to lose everything. She went back to give people hope and a leg to stand on when they would have nothing. It may have been stubborn, but she was risking her life to save thousands. The only reason Tommy was there, and he died, was because he loved her. That was his own decision to make; he was a grown ass man.
There are many more examples of how Laurel showed her compassion and selflessness throughout the series, but those are just main points to show how she was emotional support, selfless, and compassionate to everyone. She had the biggest heart. Which to me was always my favorite quality about Dinah in every iteration. She has this huge heart, and it was inspiring to read about.
The next point is Laurel’s fighting skills. While most of her skills were retconned to show “development,” she still had skills. We saw it in Episode 1. You cannot fault the character for writing flaws. She may not have been the superior fighter she is in the comics, but she had skills (and the show is written by misogynists) so of course she wouldn’t be superior to her male counterpart. Look at how they handle their female characters. They all have suffered from their writing. There is no way to argue that, and it’s not just Laurel, but every female ever on Arrow. But her skills were still pretty great. They needed improvements obviously, but they were there.
Just a fun fact about Dinah, she has quite the hunger. It is funny to see it in some issues. She loves food, and after Laurel became Black Canary, we got to see that about her a bit and it was a nice little nod.
The final point to be made is her costume. While it looks plain and black, like nothing is really going on, it has some nice ties to her comic counterpart. It may not have been the iconic fishnets, but thanks to Katie Cassidy’s love for Black Canary and style, she incorporated fishnets into the costume. Her fishnet undershirt was a touch added by her, giving her a more feminine and comic vibe. The buckles everyone likes to make fun of is actually from a look of Black Canary’s. In some continuities art, Black Canary has buckles all the way up her boots. The leather jacket is also a signature outfit piece Dinah wears. Hard to mess that up.
All in all, Laurel Lance is and will always be one of the closest live action adaptations to Black Canary. Black Canary is FAR more than just fishnets, a sonic cry, and sass. If you think that is all she is, and that is all required to be Dinah, then you do not know the character well at all. We can agree to disagree, but Laurel is an incredible representation of who Black Canary is. Maybe she didn’t have her iconic costume or meta-human powers (which were not given to her due to Arrow’s at-the-time no powers rule), but her personality was really spot on before her death, and that’s why I love her so much.
What do you think? Do you think Laurel Lance represents the comic nature of the Black Canary? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
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