As Arrow comes to an end I’m picking apart the great main women of the show. Last time Arrow’s women proved that there’s nothing wrong with being misguided. Whilst the supporting characters are just that, there are also women on the show who are determined. Their determination comes in different forms and shapes, and is motivated by different reasons.
What’s more important is that it proves to everyone that if a woman is determined there is nothing that can stop her from achieving her goal, no obstacle is too big. Sometimes you just have to be patient but in the end you’ll get there. Although that doesn’t mean you make the right choices, or don’t stumble from time to time
Dinah Laurel Lance/ Black Canary
The original Black Canary, although not the first Canary, she became a superhero in honor of her sister and following in her footsteps. As Sara left in the end of season 2 she left Laurel her Canary jacket thus handing over her responsibilities. Before Laurel would become a hero, she had to go a long way.
I have to admit Laurel Lance wasn’t my favorite character on the show. There were times where things seemed off or rushed, never really giving us a reason as to why they happened that way. Other times, the older Lance sister was the only one who made sense and with whom I identified.
Admittedly, my favorite Laurel plots have nothing to do with her being the Black Canary. I liked her best as a lawyer, that’s her field of expertise and the moments she shines the brightest. In the trial of Damien Dahrk she perfectly balances out the heroes by being one in the light of the day. She also proves that you don’t need to reach for vigilantism to achieve goals and find fulfillment in life. She’s able to defeat her enemy the legal way, eve if she had to pay the ultimate price for that later.
While I enjoyed Laurel Lance the civilian I didn’t really like or understand Laurel Lance the Black Canary. I always thought the transition to superhero was not only a little bit forced but also very rushed. Maybe if we were given more time it would seem more natural.
If it’s hardships that make a hero, Laurel definitely had enough of them. The toxic relationship with Oliver, losing her sister – twice, losing Tommy, and battling addiction is certainly enough to push a person to their breaking point. It proves that Laurel had an inner strength that helped her overcome a lot. She lacked the physical strength and abilities to become a hero but was very quickly shown to be a great fighter, although she had little to no training. Which was addressed later on when she began training with Wildcat and Nyssa. She was never really show defeated by a stronger enemy in the field ,with one exception. Simply put she was too good too quickly to make her journey believable.
It seemed that Laurel’s love life was complicated to say the least. Her romantic relationship with Oliver was disastrous and toxic. A never ending circle of cheating, breaking up and getting back together. Then there was Tommy who seemed to be a consolation prize and although I liked them together the whole love triangle plot didn’t impress me. Furthermore I found it unnecessary. There was the brief flirtation with Wildcat but that also fizzled out quickly.
In the end Laurel focused on her work and personal fulfillment and it was one of my favorite twists for the character. It proved my point that your fate and happiness isn’t determined by your relationship status.
While Laurel’s a good person she has some character flaws that make her human and show that heroes are often imperfect but also make her incredibly annoying.
Laurel is often very selfish while reaching or working towards her goals. It’s proven when she resurrects Sara despite the consequence just because she couldn’t cope with her loss.
The Black Canary often displays a “my way or no way attitude” even if she has no idea what she’s doing. Making her a liability rather than an asset.
Laurel Lance’s determination is a planned consequences be damned determination. She has to achieve her goal no matter what. Thankfully she also has a good heart and cares for people. Without her there would be no Black Canary legacy since she was the one who wanted to start it.
Dinah Drake/ Black Canary
The second Black Canary and Laurel’s direct successor. We don’t really know a lot about her past. We only got the important events of her life that shaped her as the person we first meet when Oliver recruits her.
Her path to heroism seems to have started with hurt and death topped with a particle accelerator explosion in Central City. Although she became a superhero, later she was already helping people as a police detective. The explosion led to Dinah gaining her power, the sonic scream. As it hit while she was screaming after her boyfriend and partner Vincent Sobel was killed by a drug dealer they investigated together.
After the traumatic events the meta-human seeked vengeance by going after crime lords in different cities. It’s during one of those missions that Oliver tries and succeeds in recruiting her. As Rory says it was fate that Dinah joined them especially since she shares her name with the first Black Canary. The scene in which she tells Oliver her real name nicely links the Black Canary’s legacy. From then on, Dinah becomes a member of Team Arrow. Even though in the beginning she seems to be hesitant to fully take on the mantle of Black Canary. She finally grows into the role and becomes a valuable team member.
Dinah is a skilled fighter and fully trained police officer, thanks to that she doesn’t have to always relay on her superpower and even after she looses it in season 7, she remains a hero.
The new Black Canary is taken on quite a journey during the show. She starts as a team member but when Oliver, Diggle and Felicity investigate the new team members in search of the one who betrayed them in season 6, she joins forces with Rene and Curtis and forms a separate team. It’s a decision I never really understood because as a police officer she should understand internal investigations better than most people. So, although her feelings could have been hurt by it she should have understood the necessity of it. This could also have been motivated by the revelation that Vincent isn’t dead and has become the Vigilante.
Somehow the differences between her and Oliver were resolved and after he comes back from prison she offers him a position with the SCPD.
Career wise Dinah makes quite the jump as she’s promote to Captain and is now responsible for the police force in Star City. Her promotion also sets up a conflict between duty and her loyalty to her friends. In the end, Dinah’s determination and motivation to do right by her friends lead to her finding a different way to make everything work. But working with the team often puts her in difficult positions with her role as a police captain. In the end she always tries to do what’s right and thrives to be the best at what she does.
During the shows run there are three important relationships that shape Dinah.
The first is her romance with Vincent Sobel who later turns out to be the Vigilante. It was that relationship that started Dinah’s journey towards being a superhero and it was also the revelation of Vincent being alive that made her question her loyalties. After she discovered that her former boyfriend survived and joined in Cayden James becoming a villain, Dinah tries to show him the error of his ways. It seems that like with so many other things she’s successful in helping Vincent change. Sadly, the love story end tragically when Black Siren kills Vincent and Dinah again turns towards vengeance.
Thankfully, she’s able to turn back with the help of her friends and Quentin Lance who became for some time her mentor, someone who she really looked up to. You could see that she didn’t want to disappoint him and after his death she tried to better himself in honor of him.
That leads us to Dinah’s probably most turbulent relationship, with Black Siren. The two met whilst the season 5 finale on Lian Yu and from the beginning couldn’t stand each other. As adversaries both women are evenly matched since they have the same superpower.
Both women hate each other till season 7 where, whilst helping Felicity, they’re forced to work together. The hate between the characters is understandable since Black Siren killed Dinah’s love interest Vincent thus making a dangerous enemy who would’ve stopped at nothing to destroy her. Thankfully out of respect for Quentin she let the other women live.
Whilst working together with Felicity and Earth-2 Laurel Dinah very slowly starts to see the woman change. That doesn’t stop her from turning her back on Black Siren and doubting the good in her whilst she goes off the grid and starts stealing and killing again. Only because of Felicity’s relentlessness does she help the former villain. This experience is also the catalyst for forming the Canary in the future and becoming their leader, teacher and mentor. It also shows that enemy’s ca turn into ally’s
As a former Canary Dinah was the perfect choice to form the group in 2040 and lead them in protecting Star City. It was often shown that the Black Canary can command attention and has the necessary skills to become a great leader.
Dinah’s determination comes from a place of wanting to do good and right by people, not only the ones who she’s loyal to. Her determination comes from a sense of duty not only as a police officer but also as a woman and human being. With that being said the Black Canary is strongly motivated by her emotions and feelings and even when their pushing her towards a bad choices she strives o achieve that goal showing us that even heroes make mistakes.
Thea Queen/ Speedy
Thea Queen is one of the characters that came the longest way. From bratty queen bee to a loving sister and hero. Her life wasn’t easy. After losing her brother and father when the Gambit went down she had to grow up quite quickly. Creating her fair share of problems with drugs and crime.
In time, Thea was able to clean up her act and slowly she grows into a successful young women. She proves she’s always up for a challenge, be it becoming a club manager/owner or working as chief of staff in the mayor’s office. The young Queen adapts to change very easily and excels in her duties.
Speedy is defined by her relationships and feelings although that doesn’t mean that her decisions are always illogical.
Her relationships with her family are strained at best, what with Moira going to jail and lying to her about her father. Malcolm being a mass murder, assassin and Ra’s al Guhl. It goes without saying that although he loved Thea he also was very selfish and manipulative with her even if in the end he sacrificed himself for her.
The only stable father-like figure in her life was Lance, although she had to be the grown up, responsible one in the relationship while he suffered a relapse in his alcohol addiction.
With all these hardships in her life there’s no surprise that Thea found a purpose in being a superhero. Even though her transition into a hero takes place almost in the same time as Laurel’s, I think it was handled better. For one, she undergoes intensive training with Merlyn and she doesn’t become Speedy until the end of season 3, and that also happens after she gets some closure with Roy.
This leads us to her romantic relationships. Thea had quite a few of them; a brief affair with a DJ that didn’t end really well, her relationship with Alex the campaign manager, and finally, what I deem her epic love, Roy Harper. This pairing is one of favorites because they balance each other and make the other better. It’s also enjoyable because it seems that no matter what happens they somehow always find their way back to each other. Although they made their peace with the possibility of being apart. Making their relationship something that completes them but isn’t a necessity. They’ll always have this connection and platonic love.
Because Thea is determined by her relationships and emotions she’s prone to make decisions based solely on them. That tends to be often the reason for her troubles and problems. Furthermore, she seems to have a blind spot where her family is involved and she desperately wants to believe they’ll do the right thing.
Thea’s determination is a well earned one. Even though it’s often emotional and hectic. Her drive comes from experience and the knowledge that she can achieve whatever she wants. Speedy has earned the rewards because she overcame all her obstacles but didn’t rest and set new goals for herself striving to be even better.
Nyssa al Guhl
As the daughter of Ra’s al Guhl, Nyssa certainly didn’t have the easiest of upbringings. She grew up in a family with no love but a lot of rules and hardships. Similarly to her sister Talia, she’s a skilled warrior and a weapons master.
Although their upbringing was similar, the sisters moved on to become very different people.
Nyssa is a very stoic and emotionless woman, or rather her upbringing made her seem as such. That’s not entirely true, there are matters that she’s very passionate about. Like her birthright to become the next Ra’s al Guhl. She won’t stop at nothing to achieve her goals. It’s also worth mentioning that she’s very patient and can wait to succeed, that’s also a result of her childhood.
Her determination comes only second to her loyalty. As long as she shares your beliefs or she’s close to you. She proves it avenging Sara’s death or when she stood with Oliver against her own sister.That could have been motivated by the sisters’ long standing rivalry.
Nyssa has also developed a series of interesting relationships during her arcs on the show, be it the tense one with her father and sister or the deeper ones like her love for Sara Lance.
Nyssa’s and Sara’s relationship was one of my favorites in the Arrowverse. The conflict between what she should and what she wants. Duty and love. Not only shows an interesting conflict in a new way, especially if you take into account the League’s history and beliefs, but also puts it entirely in the female perspective
It seems that the Lance sisters will always have an effect on Nyssa. Laurel teaches her how to loosen up a little in exchange for fighting lessons.
Oliver and Nyssa have by far the most turbulent of relationships. Starting as foes, ending as allies with an arranged marriage and betrayal in between. The progress of their relationship shows that it’s possible to overcome differences.
The complicated relationship transitions to Nyssa’s dynamic with Felicity. Although their meeting was somewhere between awkward and cute there is a mutual respect from the begging. It gets a little rocky after Nyssa’s marriage to Oliver and the cute banter about sister-wives to part on respect and admiration as Nyssa becomes a mentor for Oliver’s and Felicity’s daughter – Mia.
Nyssa strongly reminds me of a rock, her silent demeanor and determination make her a powerful ally and dangerous adversary. Her almost unmovable beliefs and ideals don’t stop her from operating in a grey area I think they are what makes it possible for her to make the hard decisions.
Nyssa’s determination is a silent, stoic one learned through hardship. It guarantees success and victory.
Mia Smoak/ Blackstar
Mia is a relatively new character that we know very little about. She’s Olive’s and Felicity’s daughter. We meet her in 2040 where she tries to survive in Star City and find her mom.
Mia’s upbringing wasn’t the easiest. Growing up without a father, always having to look over her shoulder in anticipation of an attack or an enemy of her father.
Whilst growing up she learned how to defend herself and use weapons under Nyssa’s expert eye. It was supposed to prepare her in case she ever got in trouble. As the Green Arrow’s daughter she excelled in combat and she wields a bow as good as her father.
That’s not the only trait she got from him. Like Oliver, she’s a natural leader so there’s no surprise when she takes charge of the new mission that arises.
Felicity and Mia’s relationship is strained because of Felicity’s involvement with vigilantism but in the end the bond between mother and daughter is stronger than anything. During the flash forwards Mia also develops a relationship with her brother William after they’re reunited. It’s a typical brother and sister relationship.
She also shares a special bond with Diggle adopted son Connor.
Mia’s determination is a young determination. Although not one without hardships. It’s a determination that has to be honed but also one that saw a lot already. Mia is a future that’s wide open even though she’s build on mistakes and miscoceptions.
Felicity Smoak/ Overwatch
I have to admit that I might be biased, especially since Felicity is the character that made me fall in love with Arrow in the first place (sorry Stephen).
Felicity proves that no matter your circumstances you can be successful. She’s the daughter of a cocktail waitress and a wanted cyber criminal. We first meet her when Oliver need her help while delivering horrible excuses. From there she begins a journey to becoming a superhero.
She’s an MIT graduate and is the teams IT specialist. Her role grew and with time she became indispensable. Although she faced some of her insecurities shortly after Sara joined the Team. Thankfully, Diggle was there to help her and she realised that it’s ok to have just one field of expertise.
In the beginning Felicity often served as the comic relief with her babbles and unintended inuendos. Sadly, as her role in the series grew she became darker, losing some of her light and naivety. I’m not sure if it was the right decision for the character and she made some questionable choices because of it. Although I might not support all of the character development choices they somehow seemed like a natural progression. Especially for someone who enters such a world.
Felicity overcame her fair share of hardships. Losing people, being paralysed and dealing with the change that comes with that, relationship problems, family problems somehow she had all kinds of drama going for her. Furthermore I liked and respected her for most of her questionable choices and often agreed with her reasoning and motivations.
With that being said the arc of finding out about William and breaking off the engagement with Oliver is something I can’t comprehend and I’m not going to try. Let’s not cry over spilled milk.
There are some key relationships that one has to consider while studying Felicity.
Her mother Donna: while Felicity thinks they don’t have anything in common if look at them side by side you’ll notice that’s not true and it’s not only their looks.
Then there’s her friendship with Diggle which although had it’s up and downs is one of the constants in her live. They’ll always be each others confidants.
Felicity also had quite a lot of love interests, but it’s her connection to Oliver that always stood out to me (yes I’m an Olicity shipper) there’s just something about these two that makes me believe in soulmates. Although it doesn’t mean that either one of them or their relationship is perfect. It couldn’t be further from the truth whats so inspiring is how the manage to overcome their problems and put themselves in the other’s position.
Felicity is by no means perfect. She tends to be very stubborn. It’s only worsened by the fact that she sometimes gets tunnel vision. She focuses on the goal so much that she doesn’t see or care about the consequences of her actions.
Mostly does goals are dictated by her feelings for her family and loved ones or sometimes by a greater good or an ideal.
While examining Felicity’s journey I have to admit that the end of her story was satisfying . to me. We got the closure we needed, or as much as possible. I still have some questions. Furthermore we got an ending that gives us hope. There is a chance to write more chapters of Felicity’s story.
Felicity’s determination is one that comes from the sheer force of her will. It proves that any obstacle can be overcome. Felicity’s life purpose was to be a hero that’s what determined her and in the end she achieved her goal.
Arrow proved that strong female characters can come in a wide variety of shades and be determined and driven by different things. Despite their differences at their core lie the same values. Values important to all women. Although our lifes probably never be a TV series we can find ourselves in the Felicity’s, Laurel’s, Thea’s and the all other imperfectly real women of Arrow.