And besides, what is Ricky supposed to get out of this incident? What lesson has he learned? What lasting advantage has been bestowed upon him?
The problem that Clark Kent, alias Superman, is supposedly trying to deal with is that young Ricky here is being bullied by his classmates. They don’t want him on their bowling team, for a very good reason: the kid has no skills, and brings nothing to the organization.
If the miraculous intervention on Ricky’s behalf makes it appear as if he has suddenly and temporarily acquired an inhumanly destructive right hook which blows bowling pins to fragments, then what? Even if this moment of triumph, which he did not earn and does not deserve, imbues him with masterful confidence heading into his next time at-bat, he still sucks at bowling and that deficit has not been corrected.
And as for the bullying, if you think that the only problem the other kids have with him is his bowling skills, then you need to take another close look at Ricky.
“I just can’t stand this,” sighs Ricky’s mother, referring to the afternoon group activity that she has apparently delivered him to. She has just tied his shoes for him in front of the other boys, and if Ricky can’t tie his own shoes at this age, then that is a fundamental problem that even Superman can’t correct.
“Oh, Lana, it’ll be okay,” says the alien space god. “Believe me, I know, I was a late bloomer myself.” This is only comforting if Ricky has a private ice palace to hike to that will confer upon him a special genetic destiny, which does not seem likely.
“Well, it’s not just that he’s small for his age,” Lana replies. “How would you like to be the only kid in town without a father?” Which is… wait, what? Is it possible that in 1983 Smallville, the Langs are the only couple in a generation that have gotten a divorce? I feel like the entire corpus of American country and western music would indicate otherwise.
Also, as Lana well knows, Clark Kent was the only kid in town without a father, so that’s a very insensitive thing to say.
Also: what is this scene about?
If the scene is trying to say that Clark would be a better stepfather for Ricky than Brad would, then it doesn’t really do that, because, as I said earlier, Brad is actually trying to help the kid, and anyway, that’s not the storyline of this movie. This isn’t a love-triangle competition for Lana’s hand; Lana dislikes Brad on sight, and Clark isn’t really pursuing a romantic relationship with her.
If it’s trying to interest us in Ricky and his emotional well-being in order to give strength and purpose to his late-movie intervention with Dark Superman, then it’s not doing that, either. If you want to interest the audience in a new character, then the procedure is to make a friend, make a joke and make something happen, and Ricky is not accomplishing any of those goals. Ricky has no friends, he isn’t funny, and we don’t even hear him talk; the kid doesn’t get a single line in the whole sequence.
In fact, what this scene establishes is that Ricky is a hapless nonentity buffeted about by fate, just a pawn in a passive-aggressive dick-swinging contest between the town drunk and the strongest man in the world.
And it’s not like Ricky’s problems start and end here at the bowling alley. As we’ll soon learn, in another sequence that reduces him to a passive victim of circumstance, Ricky can’t even run across a wheat field without knocking himself unconscious, which means he’s going to have a tough time surviving childhood in a town made up mostly of bowling alleys and wheat fields.
But the important question, which we will return to later on, is: Why does this movie hate Smallville?
4.20: The Coming of Gunn
Ricky is played by Paul Kaethler, in his one and only screen credit. I could not discover a single other fact about him in my admittedly not very extensive search.
4.20: The Coming of Gunn
— Danny Horn