Birds of Prey Establishes One of the DCEU's Earliest Superheroes

Audiences are currently flocking to the theater to check out Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn), the latest film in the DC Extended Universe franchise. The female-led ensemble had quite a lot of ground to cover, between continuing the adventures of Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), and introducing a slew of new characters. One of the characters fans have been most excited to see on the big screen is Dinah Lance/Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), especially given her nearly-80 years as part of DC Comics lore. Through the events of Birds of Prey, general audiences got an interesting take on her origin story -- while also establishing a major bit of legacy in the process. Major spoilers for Birds of Prey below! Only look if you want to know!

When we first meet Dinah in the film, she's moonlighting as a singer in Roman Sionis' (Ewan McGregor) Black Mask Club, and eventually gets employed as his new driver. Through a series of events, this new job brings Dinah into the crosshairs of detective Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez), who offers her the opportunity to be a mole for the Gotham City Police Department and provide information on Sionis' operation. Dinah initially refuses, which leads Renee to bring up a touchy subject -- Dinah's mother. Renee reminds Dinah that she has "the same power" that her mother had (referencing the supersonic Canary Cry), and that her mother had spent her time helping the GCPD as a vigilante. As Dinah tells Renee, her mother's time as a vigilante led to her dying in the streets, which is why she is against the idea of following in her mother's footsteps.

While Dinah's mother is never mentioned by name, it's clear that the exchange is a reference to Dinah Drake, the first woman to serve under the moniker of Black Canary. In the comics, Dinah is a florist who moonlights as a costumed crime-fighter and helps detective Larry Lance solve crimes. For decades, Dinah Drake served as a member of the Justice Society of America, only for her place in the continuity to get complicated following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths. In the new post-"Crisis" timeline, it was eventually revealed that the current Black Canary was actually Dinah Drake and Larry's daughter, and that she had taken on her mother's superhero identity to her mom's chagrin. The older Dinah was eventually diagnosed with cancer and passed away.

While the circumstances around Dinah Drake definitely seem different in the DCEU, the fact that she served as a vigilante when Dinah was a child opens a really interesting can of worms. Although it's never explicitly stated how old Dinah Lance is - or how old she was when her mother died - the fact that Renee knew Dinah Drake could help pinpoint more of a timeline. It certainly stands to reason that Dinah Drake could have been helping the GCPD in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which would potentially make her one of the earliest vigilantes in Gotham City, especially when you consider the fact that Ben Affleck's Batman canonically didn't start fighting until 1995 or 1996. Outside of the nearly-immortal superheroes in the DCEU (like Wonder Woman and Black Adam), this would essentially make Dinah Drake one of the franchise's first superheroes -- a fitting nod to her own history in the comics.

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Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) is in theaters now. Other upcoming DC movies include Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5th, The Batman on June 25, 2021, The Suicide Squad on August 6, 2021, Black Adam on December 22, 2021, Shazam! 2 on April 1, 2022, The Flash on July 1, 2022, and Aquaman 2 on December 16, 2022.