Itís fair to say that expectations for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 are exceedingly high, and following a recent press screening of the film, it would seem that James Gunnís follow-up to his enormous 2015 hit is firing on all cylinders. Thatís good news, as the first film surprised audiences everywhere, introducing the world to members of a dysfunctional family of intergalactic outcasts and their unwitting involvement in saving the universe from almost certain annihilation.

Itís a good bet the first filmís success was a surprise to Marvel Studios too, as it was widely thought of as the hit makerís first major risk, with a cast of largely unknown characters being led by the recently ripped Chris Pratt, an actor who had been making a name for himself playing harmless, somewhat out-of-shape nitwits on television. Given the filmís victory with both critics and at the box office, a sequel was almost immediately in the cards, and now it seems Marvel has another crowd-pleaser on its hands.

The recent press screening has critics and journalists emerging from the theater to share their initial thoughts on the sequel, with most of them offering plenty of praise for the film and its place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Read a sampling of early reactions below:

As far as the early reactions go, there seemed a consensus that Vol. 2 was what so many sequels dream of being: superior to the original. Uproxx writer Mike Ryan even went so far as to evoke the name of Empire Strikes Back in his analysis. Though he didnít compare Guardians 2 to Star Wars: Episode V, he did use it as an example of what the Marvel sequel does well, which apparently, is to split the characters up into smaller adventures. That may be something of a risk, as one of the major draws of the first film was the feeling of budding camaraderie between Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot. Splitting them up may afford them more personal storylines, in which the individual characters are front and center, so it will be interesting to see if general audiences react in the same way.

As is usually the case, there is one voice of dissent. This time it comes from The Tracking Board editor in chief Jeff Sneider, who felt the film wasnít as good as the first and that what worked in the original movie now ďfeels forced.Ē Itís worth noting that, even in his initial reaction, Sneider still gave the movie 2.5 out of 4 stars.

With the movie just a few weeks from its premiere, it seems as though this onslaught of early reactions will help fuel audience anticipation for the first of three Marvel Studios offerings in 2017. The only question now is: Which Marvel movie will reign supreme at the box office?