The Problem With ‘Arrow’s’ Portrayal of Black Canary

Over my month-long Christmas break, I decided it was high time for me to start the show that began DC Comics’ television universe, Arrow’. Airing its first episode back in 2012, ‘Arrow’ bagged in over one million viewers for its first and second seasons and continues to be the leader of DC’s television universe. What pulled me towards the show was the array of characters it involved, specifically one of my favorite Birds of Prey, Black Canary. But for such an independent, multi-faceted character in the comics, ‘Arrow’ seems to kill her (or whoever wears the leather jacket next) every other season.

Caity Lotz as Black Canary/The CW

The two main characters in ‘Arrow’ that take on the Black Canary alias are Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) and Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy). Both women check off all the boxes as Black Canary. Great at hand-to-hand combat? Check. Can rock a leather jacket? Check. Fight for justice? Check. Unfortunately, their stories can at times feel weak and pushed to the back for storylines that instead center around their romance with Oliver. Green Arrow and Black Canary have a wonderful history in the comics, but that relationship does not make them who they are as characters. Then, if Black Canary is kicking ass by her lonesome, she is killed off on a whim without any proper ending to her storyline (“The Calm” and “Eleven-Fifty-Nine”).

As I’m catching up with this current season of ‘Arrow’, I’ve realized how even with other women on the show, there is still a lack of well-developed female characters. Laurel Lance as Black Canary was so close to being an earnest depiction of a complex woman in the ‘Arrow’ universe. Except she was killed off before she had the chance to become fully established as her own vigilante. The only way I can imagine ‘Arrow’ fixing their lack of developed female characters is to WRITE COMPLEX FEMALE CHARACTERS. There really is no way around the issue, especially with shows like ‘Agents of Shield‘, ‘Agent Carter‘ and ‘The Flash proving that successful superhero shows can have well-written female characters. With a new Black Canary entering the arena of the ‘Arrow’-verse this season, we can only hope that she’ll be the representation women audiences deserve.


My Top 3 Favorite Super Heroines

When you’re a parent, choosing your favorite child can seem impossible because you “love every single one of them equally.” Except us kids know differently. There is definitely a hierarchy of favorite kid to worst. But that doesn’t mean we don’t know that you still love us other children. That’s me with my favorite super heroines. “I love Batgirl and Black Widow equally!” I exclaim when asked about which comic lady is my favorite. But if I truly examined all the comic books I’ve read, there are characters I prefer over others. In this article, I’m going to look back at the women who’ve made me fall in love with comics in the first place.

img_01331.) Stephanie Brown a.k.a Batgirl

The first comic series I kept up with monthly was Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl run, starring the Eggplant Wonder aka Stephanie Brown as the iconic Batgirl. Once just a love-interest for the 3rd Robin, Tim Drake, she eventually become a Robin in her own right, despite Batman’s refusal. Unfortunately, she met her untimely death by the worst trope instilled on women in comics: “stuffing them in the refrigerator” or using death, rape, and harm of female characters in comics as a plot device. With fan’s outcries towards her death, she eventually came back as Batgirl in the 2009 – 2011 series.

“…She could hold her own against super-powered baddies and saved Gotham City on more than a few occasions, without Batman’s help.”

What drew me to Stephanie Brown was her determination and humor in the role of Batgirl. She was always trying to prove to other heroes that she was the Real Deal™, not just a copycat version of Barbara Gordon who found some tights lying around and thought, “I bet I can punch some people.” Not even Batman, the dude who her whole alias is based around, believed in her ability to fight crime. But Stephanie pushed forward and kicked ass, making quips and taking names. She was a normal twenty-something going to college, who had no powers or special abilities. Yet, she could hold her own against super-powered baddies and saved Gotham City on more than a few occasions, without Batman’s help. Also, she loved waffles which are one of my favorite breakfast foods, ever.

2.) Kamala Khan a.k.a. Ms. Marvel

When I heard that there may be a chance of Kamala Khan having her own t.v. show in the same universe of the MCU, I internally shouted with happiness along with many other fans. Although the rumored show about Kamala hasn’t had any signs of hitting our t.v. screens soon, fans still hope for a Ms. Marvel MCU appearance in the future. First stepping out into the Marvel Universe in 2013, Kamala Khan has become a huge fan favorite in such a short time. Once touched by the Terrigen Mist that effects those with Inhuman genetics, Kamala gained the ability to alter her body and her appearance. She later took on Carol Danvers’ former alias, Ms. Marvel, and became a teen crime-fighter for her hometown of Jersey City, New City.

“Like Kamala, I was a teenage girl who adored the world of superheroes.”

Reading Kamala’s comics was like seeing myself in the very-male world of comics. Like Kamala, I was a teenage girl who adored the world of superheroes. I remember reading one of her early comics where she’s reading superhero fan fiction and it was such a funny scene because I could see myself doing the same thing. I think she’s a great source of representation, especially for Muslim girls who want to see themselves in the world of superheroes. Kamala’s character allows for the Marvel Universe to more closely resemble our own world, a world full of diverse and varied people.

3.) Diana Prince a.k.a. Wonder Woman

I don’t know if this blog would have existed without the shining image of justice that is Wonder Woman. Hailing from the land of Themyscira, Diana Prince grew up among Amazonian women, isolated from modern civilization. She eventually became Wonder Woman, an icon in comic book history with a run of over 50 years. Wonder Woman is one of the most prominent female superheroes to exist in comics, representing feminists views from the beginning of her conception in 1941.

Two years ago, I travelled to Portland, Oregon for a college tour. While there, I visited a huge flea market packed to the brim with vendors selling clothes, antique furniture and an assortment of knick knacks. Nothing stood out to me, but as I travelled throughout the rows of boxes, I came upon a comic book seller. I thumbed through hundreds of comics, until I came upon the gleaming lasso of truth of comics: a full set of the original 1986 run of Wonder Woman by George Perez and Greg Potter. I spent the rest of my money from the trip on it and made sure I protected it with my life until I got back to Texas.

“Wonder Woman was always written as a hero in her own right…”

The reason I wanted those comics so badly was because Wonder Woman has always been an opening point for me in comics. Even if you don’t know every weird, nonsensical storyline in comics, you know about Wonder Woman. She’s a cultural icon, one that I loved as a little girl when watching the animated Justice League series. Wonder Woman was always written as a hero in her own right, someone who wasn’t going to allow to be overshadowed by Batman or Superman. She has her own people to save, and her own way of saving the them. And if Batman or Superman couldn’t make it, pshhh, like she needed them anyways.