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After decades of appearances in comics, TV shows and video games, Black Canary is finally making her theatrical debut next month in Birds of Prey, where she’s played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell. Her inclusion in the movies makes sense given how she’s one of the founding Birds of Prey members on the printed page, but when it came to her trademark sonic scream, i.e. the Canary Cry, Smollett-Bell was inspired by the Injustice 2 video game, where Black Canary is a playable character. The actress revealed:
I drew a lot of inspiration for the Canary Cry from the Black Canary in Injustice 2. Even physically. For me, I really wanted to make it primal... It's not something she uses, it's something she's trying to hide. So to get to that point, she has to rev herself up. It's such a guttural point and a guttural place.
For some, superpowers are a gift, while for others, they’re a curse. How Black Canary views her Canary Cry differs depending on the medium, but when it comes to Injustice 2, as Jurnee Smollett-Bell sees it, this sonic scream isn’t something that one just doesn’t break out on a whim. So the actress decided to follow suit on Birds of Prey, with her version of Dinah Drake in Birds of Prey keeping the Canary Cry bottled up whenever possible, and then it takes some building up when she decides to use it.
The Canary Cry has been shown a little bit in Birds of Prey advertising, but I suspect that we’ll see it taken up a couple notches during the movie itself. Jurnee Smollett-Bell also talked to IGN about how enjoyable it was shooting the Canary Cry scenes, saying:
But it was fun, man. They put a bunch of people on some strings and ratcheted them back, and it was awesome! I felt pretty powerful.
As it turns out, one of the stuntmen who was attached to those wires was co-star Margot Robbie’s brother, Lachlan. So Birds of Prey ended up being a small family affair, although (presumably) unlike Harley Quinn, Lachlan’s character unfortunately finds himself at the receiving end of the Canary Cry, which… isn’t fun, to put it lightly.
This version of Black Canary starts out as a singer at the club belonging to Ewan McGregor’s Roman Sionis, a Gotham City crime boss who, like his comic book counterpart, also goes by the moniker Black Mask. In the last Birds of Prey trailer, Harley Quinn mentioned that Dinah Lance “betrayed” Roman, and while we don’t know the specifics of that yet, Dinah will somehow crossing paths with Harley, Helena Bertinelli (Huntress), Detective Renee Montoya and young Cassandra Cain. Together, these ladies will work together to bring Sionis and his organization down.
Although Birds of Prey sees the return of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn following her debut in Suicide Squad, director Cathy Yan has said that her movie will not feel like a sequel to the 2016 Task Force X adventure, and has even said it “kind of exists in a parallel timeline.” Whatever the deal with continuity is, Birds of Prey is estimated to take in between $40-$60 million at the domestic box office on opening weekend, and if it proves successful, it’s a good bet we could see Black Canary and these women reuniting for a sequel or two.
Birds of Prey opens in theaters on February 7. Don’t forget to look through our DC movies guide to see what else this franchise has in the works.