Marvel Studios has done it again. Under the watchful eye of Marvel Cinematic Universe mastermind Kevin Feige, a diverse group of directors, writers and actors have produced hit after hit since the ambitious project began in 2008.

Seven years after Iron Man raged onto the scene and revived Robert Downey Jr.’s career, AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON does what would seem to be impossible. An ever growing roster of lead characters are expertly developed as a new threat is faced – and it never feels like a retread.

Joss Whedon, who wrote and directed The Avengers in 2012, returns to his duties here and to be honest, I had low expectations. How could it possibly be as good as the first? How many times can we deal with a bad guy bent on mass destruction and the team coming together to save everyone?

It’s as good as the first. In some ways, it’s better. These characters have grown, and Age of Ultron reveals even more about them and their relationships. It doesn’t feel like a superhero movie – it’s just a really great movie.

Of course, it’s full of explosive action and witty banter. Robert Downey Jr. remains the core of the group as Tony Stark, but Captain America (played perfectly by Chris Evans) seems to have stepped up to a more official role within the Avengers.

The returning cast is excellent, just as before. Kudos to Chris Hemsworth for making a character as ridiculous as Thor not just believable, but relatable. Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Mark Ruffalo (Dr. Bruce Banner) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) are all tasked with a much wider range of emotion this time around, and it all comes off beautifully.

Newcomers James Spader and Paul Bettany (appearing the flesh for the first time, having previously voiced JARVIS in previous films) are wonderful. Spader in particular nails it as the tortured and complex Ultron, a performance combining motion capture and his voice. Elizabeth Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson make an impression as newcomers Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.

Whedon is careful to avoid worn tropes and traditional superhero trappings – the result is an amazing movie that will no doubt make a bajillion dollars worldwide. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a juggernaut that like Miley Cyrus, can’t stop and won’t stop. So…go see it.