AFTER so many sequels and reboots of the Spider-Man character on the big screen, from Sam Raimi’s trilogy to the character being integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s hard to see what else the film-makers can give us. But then along comes an animated Spider-Man.

Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) is a normal teenager living in New York with loving but fairly easy-going mother Rio (Luna Lauren Velez) and loving but tough police officer father Jefferson (Brian Tyree Henry). The film has a surprising emotional through-line in how it depicts the father-son relationship.

One day while doing some secretive spray painting with his chummy uncle Aaron (Mahershala Ali), Miles is bitten by a mysterious spider that gives him special powers from web slinging to a tingling spidey sense.

This leads him to crossing paths with Peter Parker (Jake Johnson) who, due to the villainous Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) meddling with a dimension-altering weapon, has inadvertently been sent from a parallel universe and who teaches Miles how to be Spider-Man.

But it doesn’t stop there; many other diverse versions appear, from Gwen Stacy AKA Spider-Woman (Hailee Steinfeld) to Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage). Sony’s dazzling animation is as fun because it takes that idea and just runs with it. “Anyone can wear the mask” seems to be its mantra, conjuring the everyman wonder that drives much of comic book fandom. For all its eye-popping aesthetics, it has a refreshingly old-fashioned spirit. The old and the new meet in the film’s beguiling combination of traditional hand-drawn animation and contemporary computer rendering. It’s about as close as a film has come to feeling like a comic book come to life.

Inventive direction by trio Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman works in lovely harmony with the eclectic, knowing style of scriptwriter Phil Lord (The Lego Movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) to find a quite miraculous way of breathing new life into the overflowing genre.

From its sharply written dialogue to its animation style, the film is beautifully self-aware, cleverly lampooning yet dotingly celebrating the attributes that have become such a part of pop culture. And yet it feels like it puts its own fiercely original stamp on that most famous of heroes.

This is a visually stunning, innovative incarnation of the character; propulsive in its energetic action, engagingly voiced, tightly written, reverential yet forward-thinking in its ethos and with a real sense of heart and soul at its core. It’s a particular treat for fans and a welcoming, imaginative embrace for everyone.