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5 Ways Avengers: Age of Ultron Trumps the Original

For many fans of superhero movies, 2012’s The Avengers was Marvel’s crowning achievement. Some of us were less enthusiastic, believing that director Joss Whedon only half-achieved his ambitious goals.

But before you cry sacrilege, give us a chance to offer some good news. A significant improvement over its predecessor, Avengers: Age of Ultron holds its own with Marvel’s finest work to date. Whedon delivers just the right ingredients to make this the summer’s standout blockbuster—and a significant improvement over The Avengers. Allow us to explain:

1. The new characters

Playing the Scarlet Witch, Elizabeth Olsen gives the film a welcome new dose of female energy. Even more impressive are the film’s other major additions (Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver, Paul Bettany’s Vision, and James Spader’s Ultron), thanks to their striking visual qualities and/or unusual personalities.

2. The Marvel Universe keeps expanding 

The Avengers had no shortage of franchise overlap, but Age of Ultron takes this to the next level by casually including supporting players from just about every recent Marvel movie.

3. Unique conflict 

In the complicated world of this sequel, the Avengers both battle one another and join forces with their enemies. This kind of unpredictable thinking keeps the element of surprise far more present than it was last time around.

4. It doesn’t take itself too seriously

The Avengers had its share of laughs, but writer-director Joss Whedon now seems more at home cracking wise in the Marvel Universe. The laugh-out-loud moments sprinkled throughout may explain why Age of Ultron makes for such a breezy 141 minutes.

5. Better action 

Beginning with the impressive opening, Whedon’s direction of action is far more assured than it was last time. This is especially apparent when we reach the film’s explosive climax, a sequence so elaborate that it makes The Avengers look like an indie rom-com. Avengers: Age of Ultron opens on Thursday night.

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