When Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse was released in 2018 it didn’t only shake up the Marvel Cinematic Universe it also changed animated films forever. While companies like Dreamworks and Pixar had liked to view themselves at the forefront of animated technology for years they were suddenly stunned by a film that’s visual stylings incorporated street art and the look and feel of graphic novels in a way that no film had ever done before – and audiences loved it.

So perfect was the film it was nearly impossible to see how the filmmakers could match it with the film’s follow-up Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse yet somehow they have managed to create a film that not only takes the artwork to a whole new level but also has an emotional storyline that brings these super-heroes alive in a very special way.

The film’s plot really centres around family and begins with Gwen Stacey’s (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld Bumblebee) father, George (Shea Whigham – Take Shelter), finding out by her secret identity as Spider-Gwen – something he responds to by trying to arrest her.

Meanwhile in his Spider-Verse Miles Morales (Shameik Moore – Dope) is struggling to deal with everyday life while juggling his Spidey responsibilities. Even while fighting his latest villain The Spot (Jason Schwartzman – Moonrise Kingdom) he manages to disappoint his parents, Rio (Luna Lauren Velez – The First Purge) and Jefferson (Bryan Tyree Henry – Bullet Train), by turning up late to an important meeting at his school.

As his relationship with his parents sours even more Miles is at a loss at what to do but suddenly his spirits are lifted when Gwen arrives in his timeline, but he soon learns that she is there because she has been brought into a secret group led by Miguel O’Hara (Oscar Isaac – Ex Machina) who has the responsibility to bring order and fix any problems with the Spider-Verse. But while Miles instantly wants to join the group he soon realises that perhaps he is not as welcome as he thought he might be.

That is where the power of Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse lays. While many people might feel that an animated film can’t really capture human emotion this film certainly proves otherwise. While many superhero films have explored the notion of love and loss this time the audience are taken deep into the emotions that make superhero’s tick. Even though they are animated it is impossible for the audience not to feel the pain that Gwen and Miles go through when they realise just how they have disappointed their parents.

It should also be pointed out though that this is very much a film for the true Spider-Man fan. Anyone who doesn’t know anything about the Spider-Man universe is soon going to find themselves feeling very, very lost. The film’s screenplay doesn’t spend much time setting up the universe and instead it delivers a massive amount of cameos and Easter Eggs that will have true fans oohhhing and aahhhing in the cinema. Yes, this is an unapologetic Spider-Man fan’s nirvana. And for those asking – without any spoilers yes it does tie into the wider Marvel Universe in a very unique way.

What Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse will be long remembered for though is the visuals. Co-directed by Joaquim Dos Santos, Kemp Powers and Justin K. Thompson the film takes the visual brilliance of the first film and raises it to a whole new level. From the in your face street art visuals throughout the film through to the creative ways that The Spot and Spider-Punk (Daniel Kaluuya – Black Panther) are depicted on screen this is a film that is an absolute treat to watch and even finds amazing new ways to bring the graphic novel style to life on the screen.

That visual style teamed up with a plot that sees a whole new world of Spider… um creatures… introduced into the universe makes for a film that just keeps surprising its audience over and over. Who said that there was nothing original left in the super-hero genre? Those naysayers are certainly proven wrong here.

Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse is not only one of the best films of 2023 it is one of the greatest animated films of all time. The look and feel of this franchise is so uniquely original that it sets itself apart from anything else in the genre. While many Spider-Man films thought that Spider-Man: No Way Home was the greatest spidey film ever made it may now have a serious contender for its title. Please bring on the follow-up as soon as possible.