The CW’s Black Canary: How Arrow Failed An Actress and A Comic Book Legend

Two years and three months, 56 episodes.

That’s how long it took fans of Green Arrow and Black Canary – who watched Arrow – to see Dinah Laurel Lance suit up as “[the] Black Canary”

One year and three months, 31 episodes.

That’s how long fans of Green Arrow and Black Canary – who watched Arrow – had to see Dinah Laurel Lance as Black Canary before she was killed off.

But lets be honest, Arrow, while good in Season 1 and Season 2, was never a Green Arrow show…a good action show? Yes. A Green Arrow show? Never.


Clarification


Given the fact that just about anything surrounding the TV adaption of Dinah Laurel Lance is subject to intense trolling “commentary” by the Olicity fandom, there are a few matters that need to be clarified prior to making any substantial and weighted arguments in favor of Laurel.

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Each of these relationships were important to the character, important to their story, but in no way superseded the importance of the show’s story as a whole.

The first, and it pains me to say it, is that I – personally – didn’t mind the concept of “Olicity” when it was first conceived on Arrow. I’ve read and enjoyed Green Arrow and Black Canary comic books throughout the entirety of my life, I own digital copies of nearly all of them, and I’m someone who patiently waited through seven seasons of Smallville to see one of DC’s most highly regarded duos together on screen in the form of Lois and Clark. Point being, I viewed Olicity as a buffer relationship. Much like most buffer relationships (Lana Lang and Clark Kent on Smallville, Stefan Salvatore and Elena Gilbert on The Vampire Diaries, Richard Castle and his Kyra Blaine on Castle, Ted Mosby and Stella Zinman How I Met Your Mother, etc.) Oliver and Felicity had potential to be their own, standalone, relationship that would be beneficial or detrimental to Oliver, the show’s main character, and also had potential to grow into somewhat of an interesting dynamic. All of this, of course, was before “Olicity” and Felicity became the main focus of what is apparently still Arrow.

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Secondly, regardless of my initial acceptance of Oliver and Felicity, I still thought that Oliver and Laurel should not only be “endgame” (the term used to denote the final relationship character on a show have), but also that Oliver and Laurel had significantly better chemistry. The way I see it, Oliver and Felicity have what can only be referred to as written, or forced, chemistry;  nearly Every scene between (or about) the two – Oliver and Felicity – needs to clarify that the two have feelings for each other through either direct dialogue, or through the two touching or kissing each other. On the other hand scenes between Oliver and Laurel contained something that I refer to as a very natural chemistry. There was rarely a need to say “I love you” to remind the audiences that the two had feelings for each other, while Season 1 certainly contained scenes where Diggle had to call Oliver out on his feelings for Laurel, those feelings were detected not based on Oliver’s dialogue, but based on the mannerisms the two characters (Oliver and Laurel) had around each other. In nothing more than a glance, the audience knew that Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Laurel (Katie Cassidy) had feelings for each other (of course I’m referring to the characters, not the actors).

Green text credit (and image) to reddit user OnBenchNow.

Green text credit (and image) to reddit user OnBenchNow.

Third, and I apologize if fans of the “Olicity ship” find this offensive, but it’s my belief that a large portion of the fanbase for Felicity and Olicity enjoy the character and the ship solely because it represents an idealized version of their own selves. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s hardly a reason to project such animosity towards those who disagree. Given my numerous encounters with the Olicity fandom (just based on my reach as someone who runs a relatively popular website, and the fact that I’m vocal in my opinions) I’ve deduced that a plethora of pro-Olicity fans find Felicity (and therefore Olicity) relatable simply because they can relate and attach their own personas to her (“shocker” right, you relate to a relatable character?!?). While Arrow’s dialogue has claimed that Felicity is a “strong and powerful” female character, the character’s actions on the show – especially when compared to the likes of Nyssa, Thea, Laurel, and Sara – are hardly to be considered “strong”. As much as I dislike speaking for a group of people of which I am not a part of, it seems to me that the “rabid” portion of the Felicity find the character so relatable because she is the socially awkward, slightly socially inept type of character whose looks persona is what pulls in the hero rather than anything else. I personally believe that – as harsh as it comes off – reddit user iAMA_Leb_AMA stated it best when he said:

Here’s the downright truth as to why Olicity fans are in love with Felicity. Its because they can relate to her. Why not attach themselves to Sara/Laurel/Nyssa? Because (lol) they’re all strong and powerful woman, and they can’t relate to that. They relate to the socially awkward nerdy type who sits on their computer all day. And because of this, they think that if Felicity is with Oliver in Arrow, maybe they can get the handsome, strong popular kid at school in real life! This is why they hate Katie, because she’s a threat to that fantasy relationship where the nerdy awkward girl meets the popular guy. Yeah they’ll never admit to that, and brush it off with ‘Laurel provides nothing to the plot’ then proceed to tweet ‘DONNA SUCH AN AMAZING CHARACTER!!’. They don’t give a fuck about compelling storylines, whether Laurel has a good arc or whatever, all they care about is their fantasy relationship.

Reason being? Because if they can see this relationship on TV, then it gives them hope on the inside. Then it gives that small possibility that some attractive vigilante will sweep them off their feet in real life. Even though, obviously, this isn’t the case. Reason they care about fanfics so much? Because they pretend they’re Felicity in them. Of course none of them will admit to this, because why would they? They’ll just brush it off with ‘OMG YOU’RE A MISOGYNIST HOW DARE YOU’ if you call them out on it. They don’t care if Felicity is crying or is the best character on the show, all they care about is Olicity. Its the reason why everytime the Arrow page tweets something, all the replies are ‘#OLICITY AND #SMOAK #OTA I LOVED THEM ALL OH AND THEA”. Because they don’t want to give any recognition to Laurel, who is (was) a potential threat to Olicity due to comic canon and her strong fanbase (iAMA_Leb_AMA).

Of course, this may come off as a little harsh, but it’s hard to argue the fact that this is [potentially] a very accurate observation. That said, this is all subjective and it demands on how one views on-screen occurrences, but it’s hard to deny the facts. ***

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Fourth, I didn’t prefer Oliver and Laurel “because comic books” I, much like many Olicity fans, find that statement to be a blanket statement made by people potentially too afraid to articulate their thoughts for fear of being trampled by the vicious Olicity fans; Arrow is an insult to Green Arrow on the whole as is, so ‘because comic books’ isn’t an adequate explanation for anything. However, whether you do or don’t think Oliver/Laurel had better chemistry on Arrow, whether you do or don’t think Oliver/Laurel just looked better on Arrow, “because comic books” is a perfectly acceptable explanation for preferring Oliver and Laurel on screen. While a ton of Olicity fans (Arrow EP Marc Guggenheim included) will make the counter argument that “it’s an adaptation” and that somehow frees things up for vast and character changing modifications, the truth is, that argument is idiotic; especially when you consider that the same group of Olicity fans who claimed that the comics don’t matter that much in adaptions then turned around and bullied Green Arrow: Rebirth writer Benjamin Percy when he revealed that Felicity wouldn’t be in his comic book series.

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Proving just how petty and unknowledgeable he is, the tweet (not the reply) was actually sent out by Arrow EP, Marc Guggenheim.

Quite honestly, when it comes to any form of adaption, source material needs to be respected on some level or you end up morphing the intended demographic for the show to the point where the show no longer resembles what it once was, and your left wondering why the production decided to adapt a previously existing work rather than create something original. By this I mean that, when a gritty Green Arrow TV show was announced, it was clear that the intended demographic was those who watched Smallville, those who read [Green Arrow] comics, and those who enjoyed gritty action with a little bit of substance; and that’s exactly  the demographic that Arrow’s first two seasons appealed to. On the other hand, Seasons 3 and 4 of the show have slowly begun to fundamentally change the show to the point where the demographic has now become those who prefer drama with some action sprinkled in, and those who prefer relationship issues superseding plot itself. While there’s nothing wrong with the latter, it negates the point of even having adapted a character from the comics as well, why adapt something when you’re going to fundamentally modify the character beyond recognition? On another note, what many people fail to see is just how integral the Dinah Laurel Lance version of Black Canary is to the Green Arrow mythos and to Oliver’s own journey as a human being throughout the character’s nearly 75 years of publication. For those less familiar with comics I feel an analogy – where the GA/BC relationship is compared to something slightly more universally know might be helpful.

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Wait, if you’re going to adapt the Harry Potter books, and then change a core dynamic beyond recognition, why bother claiming it’s an “adaptation”.

The Harry Potter book series was adapted into movie format and obviously – for those who have both read the books and seen the movies – some liberties were taken, and yet, the movies were still almost universally praised by those who loved the book series, and those who loved the movies could turn to the books and still understand what was going on and not be confused by different character dynamics. Now imagine if you’d read the Harry Potter and thoroughly enjoyed the character dynamics, and then you turn on the movies and rather than having Harry, Hermione and Ron be the core group of protagonists throughout all 8 films it was instead Harry, Hermione, and Ritchie Coote. (Ritchie who?… Ritchie Coote was a character briefly mentioned in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.) At the sight of this any fan who had enjoyed the Harry Potter books would likely not only be confused, but appalled by the lack of respect for a character (Ron) so integral to Harry’s story. Now, further imagine that in those Harry Potter movies, Ron was chalked up to a shell of the version of the character in the books, this would likely further infuriate fans who’d grown up reading the adventures of Harry, Hermione and RON. Lastly, take a second to imagine that by the third movie, Ritchie Coote (the disinteresting replacement for Ron Weasley) became more important than Harry (the man whose name is on the cover of the book/movie) himself.

Replacing “Harry and Hermione” with “Oliver Queen”, Ritchie Coote with “Felicity” and “Ron Weasley” with “Dinah Laurel Lance”, the explanation above – while extremely long winded – accurately sums up the disrespect of the Green Arrow source material Arrow has given fans. Obviously, the comic book is titled “Green Arrow”, and the show itself is titled “Arrow”, but that doesn’t mean that a character can’t hold importance to the source material; after all, the book series is titled “Harry Potter”, and yet Ron and Hermione are integral to the man Harry becomes by the end of the seventh installment in the series.

Furthermore, I see judging an adaptation, without actually having read the work being adapted, as idiotic. People can have their opinions of Arrow as a standalone, but you can’t honestly critique Arrow as an adaptation of Green Arrow comic books, when you’ve never read, or barely read, any of said comics.

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Fifth, this is an extremely communal piece, so you’ll see a ton of block quotes, quotes, etc.

Lastly, and possibly the most important clarification I can make, is that these are fictional characters. While they are played by real actors in the TV “adaptation”, the real actors are playing fake people. Just remember that. It’s one thing to make comment to an actor because you don’t think they’re good, or you don’t like their acting style, but it’s another to go after an actor because, let’s say, their character presents a threat to your “ship”.

***I’d like to clarify that when I refer to the “Felicity fandom” or “Olicity fandom” I’m referring to the slightly larger, more aggressive, less controlled portion of the character’s fanbase. I am well aware that there are some people who simply like the character because they like the character, and I see no issue with that. As I said, given my numerous encounters with the “Olicity/Felicity” fandom I’ve come to the conclusion that a bulk of the vocal portion of those fans are rude, and overly aggressive; that may not be an accurate assumption, but it’s certainly what I’ve been subjected to and what I’ve seen.

*****AGAIN, I’d like to make it CLEAR that, while I refer to the “Olicity fandom” and the “Felicity fandom” I, in NO WAY, mean anyone other than the people in those fandoms who are rude, condescending and disrespectful, if you DON’T fall into the aforementioned mold, but you are in one of those fandoms, I apologize for homogenizing your fandom as if they are all the same, it’s just EASIER than saying “the portion of the fandom that is rude, condescending and disrespectful, etc, every single time*****
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Sources: People Who Actually Wanted a Decent Green Arrow Show, Which Arrow Is Not - Nor Has It Ever Been

Author: DCTVU

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Showing 5 comments
  • Alex

    Psst, do you reckon you could add this one to the fun links section?

    https://uk.news.yahoo.com/arrow-the-disturbing-trend-of-fridging-female-080054890.html

  • Season

    It still frustrates me to this day how much hate Laural got. She was truly an inspiration to many people out there (myself included) who have went through extremely difficult times. She showed us that no matter how hard life gets, we can always rise above it kicking ass and also helping people who need it. I’m still really sad and annoyed that the writers killed her off for nothing other then to make it “shocking” or give Oliver and Felicity more of a reason to be together. Laurel deserved better.

  • Batman

    This is quite simply the best Arrow-related article I’ve ever come across. Concise and profound illustration of a rich albeit underrated character arc that really accentuates the caliber at which this show once was. Definitely provides a stark contrast to the shameful dip it’s taken now, very tragic too.

  • Asad

    Very well written.

  • theOgse

    Arrow needs more budget money so fix up all this shit

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