Venom requires some major suspension of disbelief from its audience – namely accepting Tom Hardy as a wimpy loser.

The casting of Topher Grace as Venom/Eddie Brock in Spider-Man 3 (2007) copped a lot of hate, but in retrospect, he’s a better fit than the burly Brit.

Hardy gets to exercise his comedic muscle in this origin story for the Marvel super anti-hero, who is best known as Spidey’s nemesis. And while he appears to be having a blast, he also looks a tad embarrassed. (Hardy has said that he took the role because his son is a big Venom fan.)

He’s also wasted, as is Michelle Williams, in an erratically plotted comic book movie that’s as messy as its alien symbiotes. There’s a sense that Venom wanted to be a subversive take on the superhero genre like Deadpool, but was muzzled by the requirements of a (US) PG-13 rating.

Investigative reporter Eddie Brock (Hardy) fuses with the title character after discovering that the Life Foundation (a science facility that deals in gene therapy and space travel!) is carrying out unorthodox experiments with unwilling human hosts.

Following lots of slapstick scenes involving Eddie battling with his venomous alter ego (who likes to snack on human heads), and an obligatory car chase through the streets of San Francisco, the real agenda of the symbiotes is revealed, and it doesn’t bode well for planet Earth.

As an origin story, Venom deserved better. He’s a cool creation, both conceptually and visually, and the potential was there for the Marvel equivalent of a Jekyll and Hyde tale, or a bonkers buddy movie. Instead, he’s been let down again by a sloppy screenplay and some major miscasting.

2 starsIn cinemas: October 4, 2018
Starring: Tom Hardy,  Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer