Birds Of Prey’s Black Canary Reveals How Casting Backlash Helped Her Performance

Birds of Prey Jurnee Smollett-Bell as Black Canary

CinemaBlend participates in affiliate programs with various companies. We may earn a commission when you click on or make purchases via links.

When it was announced that Jurnee Smollett-Bell was going to play the role of Black Canary in Birds of Prey, that brought a wave of backlash from some members of the comic book fan community. As the character is typically depicted as a white female, some thought that the casting was an example of filmmakers trying to change an aspect that needed no alteration. While it was a bad situation, it did give Smollett-Bell this particular advantage for when she portrayed her character. As she put it:

It brought a rage out inside of me, which was great for Canary.

In an interview with THR, the Birds of Prey star mentioned how the negative reactions from a very specific corner of the internet was the best fuel for her role as Dinah Lance, the superpowered singer. As her specific ability is a supersonic screech emitted in moments of pure power, Jurnee Smollett-Bell’s version of the DC Comics character found quite the advantage in the world of fans trolling other fans over casting news.

Even thinking back to Jurnee Smollett-Bell’s initial promises on what to expect from her Black Canary, the backlash to her Birds of Prey casting sets up the mindset of Dinah’s introduction perfectly. So by the time she finally lets her booming voice rip during director Cathy Yan’s big ticket finale, the journey for Smollett-Bell’s character resonates all the more effectively. Though even with that particular inspiration on hand, something more was needed for certain days on set to happen.

Jurnee Smollett-Bell even admitted the fact that the huge funhouse fight sequence towards the end of Birds of Prey was so “inhumane” that she had to rely on energy drinks to keep the action going on her end. Though in the end, it was all worth it, as Smollett-Bell was able to bring the character she’d come to know and love through Injustice 2 to the big screen, and plenty of fans were more than pleased with the finished product brought to the big screen alongside Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Huntress and Rosie Perez’s Renee Montoya.

For Jurnee Smollett-Bell, the backlash surrounding her casting meant she could dig deeper and use her rage to make a Black Canary worth seeing on the big screen. It’s a story that kind of makes you hope for further DC cinematic adventures that’ll take advantage of her skill-set, as there’s undoubtedly plenty of action left for Dinah Lance and her fellow Birds of Prey to bring to life.

Birds of Prey is currently available on Digital HD, as well as 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD for rental and purchase. Though if you’re an HBO Max subscriber, you’ll be able to stream the film after its debut on HBO August 15. If you’re not a subscriber, but still want some DC Comics girl gang action, you can check out a 7-day free trial, just in time for the film’s debut. And if you’re a Jurnee Smollett-Bell fan, her role in the HBO series Lovecraft Country makes its public debut the night after Birds of Prey, on August 16.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.