The scene I picked for today is from Combat, when Clark approaches the fight promoter, Richter Maddox, in the parking lot of Belle Reve. Neither man is quite what he seems. Maddox, who works at Belle Reve to gain access to meteor freaks for his fights, pretends to be nothing more than a nerdy clerk, leaving his boring job to return to his equally boring life. Clark pretends to be a badass fighter, hot to join the underground fight club.
In spite of his usual uniform of THRJ and blue tee, Clark appears to be a completely different person. Our first clue is the deadly stillness in his eyes, as if all compassion has been extinguished. Then, when he speaks, his voice has a distinctively lower timbre, and every word comes out in a husky growl. Clark aggressively demands entrance into the club, and when Maddox clings to his pretense, denying knowledge of the fights, Clark violently shoves him up against his car.
The confrontation escalates when Maddox continues to insist Clark has mistaken him for someone else. With all the effort it would take one of us to toss a teddy bear, Clark rather gently throws Maddox onto the hood of a neighboring car. After all, he doesn't want to actually hurt the guy, just convince him he's serious. It's rather masterfully done, with Clark displaying virtually no effort as Maddox goes flying. And with that impact, the change in the milquetoast Maddox is instantaneous.
He rolls off the car and comes up fighting, a gun in his hand and a snarl on his face. Thinking he now has the upper hand, he advises Clark to run. When Clark instead once again demands to fight, and charges him, Maddox shoots. And then looks utterly stunned. Because of course Clark is standing before him, unharmed, holding out the bullet he just caught between his fingertips. As Maddox examines the bullet, his expression changes to one of delight, and he becomes positively giddy at the thought of the entertainment Clark will provide in front of the cameras. There's an extraordinary moment where, drunk with anticipation, Maddox jokes about Clark's pretty face, and Clark gives an almost imperceptible shake of his head, as if to say, don't even think about messing with me, bitch. It's wonderful! They seal the deal with a handshake, and the scene is over.
The thing I love about this scene is that the demeanor that Clark summons to intimidate Maddox is one that clearly rests right beneath the surface, one he can access effortlessly, in the space of a moment. Clark means it to portray menace, but what I see is a promise of Clark's future. I see strength. I see presence. I see the makings of a hero, one who can and will face any threat to keep safe the planet he calls home. Turn that red jacket into a cape, give me some wind in his face, and I have my Superman, people! Superman prevents crime as much with the power of his existence as he does by actually exercising his superpowers, and this scene convinced me that when the time comes, our Clark will be ready to wear the mantle of the Man of Steel.