'Arrow': Who Will Be the Next Black Canary?

From the Canary to the White Canary to the Black Canary, the DC Comics character is constantly evolving on 'Arrow.'
Courtesy of Katie Yu/ The CW
Katie Cassidy as Black Canary on 'Arrow'

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Wednesday's episode of Arrow, "Eleven-Fifty-Nine."]

The question of who was in the Arrow flash-forward grave has officially been answered: Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy). But her death — and the massive departure from the DC Comics source material — raises new questions about a potential new Black Canary on The CW series.

The Assistant District Attorney by day and Black Canary vigilante by night met her maker Wednesday when Team Arrow tried to stop Damien Darhk (Neil McDonough) from escaping Iron Heights Prison. But since the HIVE leader had regained access to his magic via his ancient totem, Team Arrow was no match for him. Darhk collected on his promise to Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) that if he betrayed Darhk, he would lose his daughter. And so Darhk stabbed Laurel with one of Oliver's (Stephen Amell) arrows, sending her to the hospital where she made it through surgery but died while in recovery.

Although Laurel told Team Arrow before she died that she never planned to give up being the Black Canary, her death opens the door for Arrow to follow the comics when it comes to passing on that title to someone new.

The DC universe is well-known for passing the baton when it comes to superhero alter egos, as many of its characters have been reset multiple times throughout history. The Black Canary has had many incarnations since the character was first created in 1947. She started as Dinah Drake, an undercover vigilante on Earth-2 who infiltrated a criminal gang before joining the Justice Society of America. When her love Larry Lance, a Gotham City Police Department detective, was killed saving Dinah's life, she moved to Earth-1 and joined the Justice League. That's when her love affair with the Green Arrow first began.

Then, the Black Canary became Dinah Drake's daughter, Dinah Laurel Lance. Many comic books followed both the mother and daughter as the Black Canary mantle was passed down. Dinah Drake died from radiation poisoning after a big battle, and Dinah Laurel Lance helped found the Justice League International before joining the Birds of Prey with former Batgirl Barbara Gordon and marrying Green Arrow/Oliver Queen.

A later incarnation of Dinah Drake also spent time working for Team 7 as a covert ops agent named Operative Canary, in charge of infiltration. But after something went wrong on a mission, Dinah became a fugitive on the run, naming herself Black Canary. At one point, Dinah spent time as the lead singer of a band named Ashes on Sunday, got a record deal and joined another rock band she named Black Canary, taking the stage name D.D.

Another version was set in a future world where Black Canary and Green Arrow have a daughter named Olivia Queen, who also took up the name of Black Canary. There have also been alternate-universe versions of Black Canary including an African-American woman, an Irish immigrant, a goddess, an evil alter ego named White Cat and a male version named Black Condor.

On Arrow, there have also been multiple versions of the character as Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) started her vigilante days after leaving the League of Assassins as the Canary before her death. Then, Laurel wore Sara's jacket to become the Black Canary in her sister's honor. When Sara came back to life via the Lazarus Pit, she became the White Canary on Legends of Tomorrow. Viewers also met Laurel and Sara's mother, Dinah Lance (Alex Kingston), though there's been no suggestion that she fought crime like her daughters.

Given Black Canary's long and storied history in the comics and on The CW drama, could someone new take up the superhero alter ego in the wake of Laurel's death? Executive producer Marc Guggenheim told reporters that the question will be brought up in the next episode.

"I don't know if I'd say [the Black Canary title] is up for grabs," Guggenheim said. "I haven't even really had the chance to discuss this with [executive producers] Wendy [Mericle] or with Greg [Berlanti]. It's a mantle that multiple people have had. We will play with that notion in episode 19. I personally like the idea that DC Comics, all the comics, they all have the concept of legacy. We've seen on Legends that someone picks up Oliver Queen's mantle [in the future], for example. So we're in that world. We lean into it pretty strongly in [episode] 19. And that doesn't always mean that the person is a hero. [Episode] 19 is the answer to that question."

And while there might not be an obvious choice for who might be willing or able to honor Laurel's memory by taking on the title of Black Canary, Mericle's comments suggested something intriguing.

"[Laurel's death] will have a huge impact on [Felicity]," Mericle said. "If you think about Felicity and what she would do in the wake of something like this, you can draw your own conclusions and you'll find out in [episode] 19. Everyone is going to be compelled to try to fix this and figure out what happened and try to get revenge."

While Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) left Team Arrow in the wake of her broken engagement with Oliver, it's not much of a jump to assume that Laurel's death might motivate her to rejoin the team in a bid to get revenge on Darhk. In the flash-forward scene that revealed Felicity was not in the grave, her fury in the limo with Oliver showed how much losing Laurel affected her. And throughout her time with Team Arrow, Felicity has worked on her fighting skills, training with Laurel and Sara and Diggle, making it clear that she has the spirit (if not the skills just yet) to be a vigilante. 

Could Felicity shed her former code name Overwatch to become the new Black Canary? She's no longer paralyzed thanks to Curtis Holt's (Echo Kellum) implantable bio-chip, and she's no longer needed behind the computers in the Arrow lair now that Curtis has proved his worth to Oliver, helping on a mission in Felicity's absence. He even took down a psychotic robot bee fanatic, all while battling the flu. And now that Kellum has been promoted to series regular for Arrow's next season, it looks like his stint on Team Arrow won't be a one-time occurrence.

All the pieces are in place to have Curtis take over as the resident IT expert on Team Arrow, freeing up the newly motivated Felicity to channel her grief and anger over a loved one's death to train and become the new Black Canary — just as Laurel did when her sister Sara died. It's all coming full circle.

And last but certainly not least, having Felicity, who does not come from any DC Comics character, become the new Black Canary would also solve the problem of Arrow's inability to bring Laurel and Oliver together romantically. While the show did try to tell a Laurel/Oliver love story in season one, it was not well received, with diehards singling out a lack of onscreen chemistry between Amell and Cassidy. Instead, Arrow writers leaned in to the natural chemistry developing between Amell and Rickards, bringing the "Olicity" relationship to life. Since Oliver and Laurel have such a long and iconic romantic history in the comics, having Oliver as the Green Arrow and Felicity as the Black Canary working out their relationship could be the solution Arrow needs to sate comic-book fans.

What do you think of the theory? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.