We’re almost at the end with Arrow‘s regular cast, and this time we’re speaking of Dinah Laurel Lance, love interest of the protagonist Oliver Queen, portrayed on screen by Katie Cassidy. Her character is quite a popular one in the DC universe, and she’s already had her first live action appearance in the 1979 tv special Legends of the Superheroes, where she was portrayed by Danuta Wesley. In the years, she’s had the face of Rachel Skarsten in the tv series Birds of Prey, and of Alaina Huffman in Smallville, plus some others. So far, the Smallville one is the live action portrayal closest to the comics’ original character, who is better known with her superheroine name Black Canary.
As many other superheroes in the DC Universe, also Black Canary saw her origins changed and retold during the years. At first, the original Black Canary, Dinah Drake, travelled to another dimension, Earth-2, and became a member of the Justice League of America. When the writers decided she looked too old compared to her teammates, they replaced her with a daughter. So, our Black Canary is Dinah Laurel Lance, daughter of the original Canary, Dinah Drake, and of her husband, private detective Larry Lance. Since she was a child, Dinah grew up among superheroes, her mother’s friends, who became like some sort of uncles and aunts for her. Surrounded by the members of the disbanded Justice Society of America, it was quite unavoidable that Dinah expressed her desire of becoming a heroine herself, once a grown up girl. Her mother forbade it, since, according to her, the world had become a much darker and more dangerous place than it used to be when she was fighting crime as the first Black Canary. Destiny wanted that the young girl developed a metagene (the gene that grants superpowers to the DC heroes and villains; in the original story, Dinah’s super voice was the result of the villain Wizard‘s curse over the baby), resulting in her trademark Canary Cry, a super scream that allowed her to actually damage things and people with her voice. Wanting to control her power, Dinah asked her mother’s friends to help her, and, meanwhile, she obtained that Ted Grant, the hero once known as Wildcat, trained her in combat. With full mastery over her Canary Cry, and having developed amazing skills in unarmed combat, Dinah, at nineteen years old, decided to defy her mother’s ban and to become a heroine, taking the Black Canary’s name, costume and identity. She left Gotham City, and in no time she built quite a name for herself, becoming a renowned heroine.
Some time after her heroic debut, Dinah married a regular man, Craig Windrow, but their marriage didn’t last and she divorced a shortly after. In the first years of her crimefighter career, Dinah became a founder member of the Justice League of America, and she was the one who chose the name of the new team, meaning it as a homage to her mother’s JSA. It was in the JLA the Dinah met the hero Green Arrow, aka Oliver Queen, a man
that soon became one of her closest friends (after a period of mutual dislike), and that, with the years, became something more. From that moment on, the two heroes seldomly parted, and they founded together the Justice League International (a famous team later led by Batman) and the Hard Traveling Heroes, a small group which consisted in Dinah, Oliver and Hal Jordan, Earth’s Green Lantern. Dinah tried to quit with her hero life when her mother died from a cancer, the result of a radiation exposure during an old battle with the living constellation Aquarius. She left the JLA, the JLI and every other team she was member of, and she moved to Seattle with Oliver, where she started a private business as a florist in her new shop Sherwood Florist. These were difficult years, with Dinah’s relationship with Oliver becoming hard because of his secret sons (and affairs…), the new shop being burned to the ground, her superpowers and her child-bearing capability taken away by some drug dealers through tortures and maimings, and even Green Arrow’s (first) death. She retrieved a motivation when her friend Barbara Gordon, who used to be Batgirl before being crippled by the Joker, invited her to join her women-only supergroup, the Birds of Prey. That proved to be a positive turn in Dinah’s life, who gained trust in herself and in her heroine’s identity, and reestablished an abiding relationship with (a resurrected and rejuvenated) Oliver, who would have soon become her husband.
Dinah Laurel Lance is a strong and obstinate woman, who firmly believes in her skills and capacities and has a good sense of adaptability, which saved her from depression in more than one occasion. As the Black Canary, she is a skilled martial artist, with complete mastery over more than twenty different styles and arts. Her Canary Cry (regained after the brief time she lost it) allows her voice to reach 300 decibels, thus damaging objects and people, a powerful sonic weapons that also makes her control her vocal cords to an extreme degree (she’s able to imitate any voice or sound). Deeply in love with her husband Oliver Queen/Green Arrow, and surrounded by loyal friends and teammates, Black Canary is one of the world’s greatest superheroes, always on the first line in fighting crime.