5 BLACK CANARY Stories That Could Inspire a TV Series
HBO’s Lovecraft Country isn’t the first time that show creator Misha Green has worked with breakout star Jurnee Smollett. The pair previously worked together on the WGN series Underground. Recently, Smollett was asked by Variety if she’d ever revisit her Black Canary role in a project that again teamed her up with Green. She was very enthusiastic about the idea, saying that she would be extremely open to playing her Birds of Prey hero once more.
“It’s a dream character and was a dream to play her,” Smollett said. “If [the] dynamics fell in the right way, I would absolutely do it in a heartbeat, and Lord knows, I follow Misha wherever she leads me.”
Green, for her part, seems very down for a Canary series. She told Variety, “I mean, you can’t help but imagine it a little bit… like, ‘What would I do with a Black Canary show?’ It’d be exciting, I know that.”
So let’s say a Black Canary series goes from idea to reality. Chances are, it would land on HBO Max, now the home to most of DC’s high-end content. But what comics and series could it be based on? Smollett’s Birds of Prey version is radically different than the comics, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t comics and animated shows that could inspire an amazing collaboration between Green and Smollett. Here are but a few.
Birds of Prey “In Like Minds” by Gail Simone (2003)
The Birds of Prey concept was developed in the mid ’90s by comic book writer Chuck Dixon. But it was writer Gail Simone, who took over the comic in 2003, who really wrote some of the best Canary stories of all time in that series. Her first big Canary story was “In Like Minds,” which finds Dinah captured by the villain Savant. Canary escapes her tormentor and kicks serious ass, and with two broken legs and two broken thumbs to boot! Although there were many amazing Canary stories from Simone over the years, this one would make for a great arc of TV.
Justice League Unlimited “The Cat and the Canary” (2004)
Warner Bros. Animation
She only appeared in a handful of episodes, but the Justice League Unlimited animated series made very good use of Black Canary, voiced here by Deadpool’s Morena Baccarin. “The Cat and the Canary” remains a standout Black Canary episode. Dinah’s backstory is explored more, as we learn that she learned fighting skills from superhero boxer known as Wildcat, who has come to feel useless in a League filled with superpowered beings. Canary has to go and rescue her mentor for his own bad decisions, and in turn manages to show him how the student has surpassed the teacher.
DC Bombshells (2018)
DC Bombshells started as a product line, reimagining DC heroines as 1940s pin-up girls. They eventually got a comic of their own by Marguerite Bennett, with its own continuity and its own parallel Earth in the Multiverse. In this world, Black Canary is a boogie-woogie lounge singer. She performs for American G.I.s stationed in Honolulu during WWII. This was the origin of the notion of Canary as a sultry songstress, which informed her movie incarnation played by Smollett. A direct adaptation seems unlikely, but relocating Canary to Hawaii and becoming an island hero would be pretty cool.
Black Canary: Kicking and Screaming (2015-16)
The New 52 era of Black Canary was confusing to say the least. It hobbled together different aspects of her previous history, but rarely in a way that made any sense. But in her 2015 solo Black Canary series, DC went in a very different direction for the character, and it mostly worked. In her new series, Dinah tries to balance a musical career with being an urban vigilante, and ditches her rock band Ashes on Sunday for a band named—you guessed it—Black Canary. This series made controversial changes to the character of Dinah. But the grittier, music-based adventures could easily serve as a template for a potential streaming series.
Justice League of America #220 “The Doppelganger Gambit” (1983)
Now, this story is more than a bit of a long shot, but it is so weird that there might be some crazy ideas to pull from it for a series. This Justice League of America story from 1983 pulls a massive retcon on the character of Black Canary. This era of DC continuity explains her as having been the heroine of Earth-2’s Justice Society of America from the ’40s, later moving to Earth-1 to join the Justice League. But the comic reframes who Canary is in the weirdest way possible.
Readers got a shock when it turns out the JLA’s Canary is actually the original’s daughter, cursed by an evil Wizard as a baby with a sonic scream. She’s then placed in a stasis dimension, growing into adulthood slowly—the hope being that as an adult, she can control her powers. But with no memories of her own, her dying mother places her own memories into her daughter’s mind. That makes the JLA’s Canary actually her own mom! Well, kind of. It’s totally old school comic book craziness, and there’s no way a direct adaptation could ever happen for a series, but imagine Smollett playing a version of Canary where she discovers she’s her own mom. Who wouldn’t want to watch that?
Featured Image: Warner Bros.