Black Canary is an iconic DC comics character.
The adaptation of the Black Canary into the show, “Arrow”, has been a bit iffy to say the least, with the character being used in a questionable sense, as well as the general story line of the character from start to finish.
To clarify, there is little to no issue (personally) with the development of Canary/White Canary (Sara Lance). As far as character birthing and development went, it made for a rather interesting story. Her time on Lian Yu with Oliver, time with the League of Assassins, time with Team Arrow and various plot devices that lead her to join the Legends on the Waverider.
The real issue lies within how Black Canary was birthed, as in, how Laurel transitioned from an important civilian to Black Canary successfully. In fact, everything up until the point of Tommy Merlyn’s tragic death is acceptable.
As we know, season two kicked off with Laurel being promoted to assistant district attorney, and was present at an event with the mayor. The event was attacked by the group called The Hoods, and Laurel came to the conclusion that she would catch The Hood himself, without realising that the vigilante and Oliver are the same person, and after being saved from the Dollmaker by Sara and Oliver, she realised that the Hood was not at fault. Laurel goes down the road of anti depressant abuse and alcoholism.
Laurel’s plot, up until this point, as far as key plot points are concerned, is fine. Her resolve to bring down the Hood, eventual realisation that the Hood was not at fault and eventual discovery that Oliver is the vigilante is all well and good. It paints her as a hero, but in the context of a civilian, since she’s trying to pursue her own crusade, gets caught in some hot water and so on. Laurel’s substance abuse starts in episode 4 of season 2, and is finally dealt with in episode 14. It takes ten episodes to deal with that, when, it should have been halved. The revelation of Sara and Oliver’s identity is also acceptable, but, it is around this time that Laurel should have been training, or have been receiving training in hand to hand combat by Ted Grant, or whoever. At some point in time, Laurel should have also been sent to Central City, for what would have been on a work trip after overcoming her substance abuse issues and at the start of her training, which, coincidentally enough, was on the night of the particle accelerator explosion. Like Barry, the particle explosion, in a way, chose her, but, instead of being hit by a lightning bolt, she was hit by a canary cry. Laurel would be knocked unconscious by it, and, on the night of the explosion, would be injected with micro power dampeners by the Reverse Flash in order to prevent the golden age of hero from dawning earlier.
The development of the Black Canary starts here, as opposed to sometime later in the show.
Season Three’s events commence as normal, but Laurel is much more competent as a hand to hand combatant, further motivated by her sister’s death. This removes plot issues such as Laurel’s incompetence on the field, and puts her on a decent level by the time she confronts Malcolm Merlyn in season three. Instead of being completely outmatched, Laurel is able to put up a relatively decent fight before being knocked down by Merlyn. Laurel is bleeding and screams in fear of being killed by Merlyn. She screams, and canary cries. Merlyn is knocked back and stunned, which leads to Merlyn being captured by Nyssa and company. She then trains under Nyssa, who trains her to fight with a League-esque style of combat, similar to Sara. Season 3 concludes.
The whole point of season two was to get Laurel to a stage where she’s confident and competent enough to handle herself. Season three deals with her getting street experience, but instead of being dealt setbacks, she’s able to hit the ground running. It also deals with the first instance of her using her powers, which is something that the team became aware of after her confrontation with Malcolm Merlyn.
Season Four commences as normal, including Laurel’s “death”. Black Canary will get stabbed by Dhark, and she will be kept in isolation, but instead of actually dying, she is injected with medicinal technology developed by Ray Palmer and Team Flash, in case of serious injuries. The tech was kept at S.T.A.R Labs, but Team Arrow has knowledge of/access to the technology, and is promptly delivered by the Scarlet Speedster early in the season. Before we expand on this, it is to be noted that Earth-2’s Laurel is significantly different from Earth-1’s Laurel. In fact, E2 Laurel is similar to E2 Barry, in terms of having no superpowers or hand to hand combat training. Barry is important to the CCPD, and Laurel is District Attorney.
In the scarce off time Team Flash has, they learn of Laurel’s presumed death, and have been informed that it was “too late” to administer the life saving technology. Instead of E2 Laurel being Black Siren, the idea of Dinah Drake being Black Siren OR having Sara Lance from Earth 2 being Black Siren is also a possibility, which turns the tables on the current season’s rivalry, or adding a sibling rivalry. Regardless, Black Siren brings E2 Laurel through a breach, citing that she knows of E1 Laurel’s death. E2 Laurel begs for her life before being killed by Black Siren in front of the Flash. A few episodes prior to the final fight with Dhark, Laurel is administered the technology and is put in a stable condition. When Oliver does his speech on the car, the camera pans over key members of the show, as it does. It then pans to Laurel’s hospital room, where her bed is found to be empty with the news playing in the background. Later on, Laurel provides an assist to the Green Arrow, which turns out to be pivotal in taking down the evil magician.
In season five, Laurel attempts to find out the identity of Prometheus through her connections in Star City while Oliver is away confronting Talia. Oliver finds out the identity of Prometheus through Talia, and Laurel is able to piece it together by herself, revealing her findings to Oliver before confirming to her that Prometheus is indeed, Adrian Chase. Throughout this season, Laurel and Black Siren run into each other a few times, having minor confrontations before finally squaring off on Lian Yu.