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Avengers: Endgame best and worst -- our global review

The CNET global crew reacts to the final chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sheer perfection or a waste of time? Spoilers ahead!

Everybody's talking about Avengers: Endgame. And here at CNET, we're no exception. Our global team is bursting with opinions -- was Endgame a perfect final chapter to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or a plot-hole-riddled waste of time?

If you haven't seen it, check out our spoiler-free review. And if you have, read on for a range of thoughts... 

Core characters

Comic book events are often messy, convoluted affairs, and it would've been so easy for Avengers: Endgame to fall into that trap. Luckily, the Russo brothers focused on the characters we've come to love over the last 11 years. Their emotional journeys anchor this wild adventure. Each of the core Avengers gets at least one fist-pumping standout moment, and I even got choked up a few times. I was confident this movie would at least reach the dizzying heights of Infinity War, but somehow it managed to exceed that superhero masterpiece. 

-- Sean Keane (London)

An offer you can't refuse

I expected Endgame would be The Godfather II to Infinity War's The Godfather, on par in quality if not better. I was very wrong. Endgame is like watching The Godfather and Godfather II combined, leaving Infinity War looking like Godfather Part III. It's so rare when a three-hour film has nothing worth trimming, but this film is as tight as Thanos' rear end after hearing the Ant-Man "theory." Endgame will leave you laughing, crying and cheering more than you've ever done in any MCU film.

-- Rebecca Fleenor (San Francisco)

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No time to pee

I've never seen so many people get up to pee in one film -- and I couldn't believe they were sacrificing even a second, because Endgame is incredible. I knew it was three hours long going in, but I didn't notice the time go by at all. I just sat and watched something that was both classic Marvel and its own fresh thing. It gets superweird. Weirder than a raccoon sending emails. It mixes time travel film with heist film -- I can't get enough of both of those genres. It proves Nebula is the best character of all (just saying). And it has real stakes. The peeing people in my screening redeemed themselves with the many whoops and cheers that made this a perfect filmgoing experience.

-- Jennifer Bisset (Sydney)

There are some problems...

OK. It's great. Obviously. Emotional, funny, epic, all those good things. Five stars, eight thumbs up.

But.

There's so much wrong with Endgame that I can't get out of my head. Primarily, time travel removes all jeopardy from all future stories. Something goes wrong tomorrow, hop back in the time machine, grab the stones again, solve it and return them. Which leaves the MCU kind of broken.

While we're on the subject, how do you return a Soul Stone? Do you chuck it over the edge and Black Widow comes back to life? Or do you just get store credit?

Also that means Cap bumped into the Red Skull again -- and we didn't see it!

My main gripe about time travel though is that the filmmakers go to great lengths to explain their logic and how it all works, and then just ignore the rules when it suits them. Seriously, @ me if you want to see my corkboard covered in red string, because Ol' Cappy at the end breaks every rule previously established.

-- Drew Stearne (London)

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All bets are off

Yes, Endgame cheats. As soon as you introduce time travel in the mix you know all bets are off. But who cares: This is a glorious final chapter to what has been an extraordinary cinematic journey. Endgame's filmic qualities as a standalone piece of cinema are secondary to the opportunity to say goodbye to the MCU's beloved characters, but the intimate character-focused story makes it enormously compelling. I laughed, I cried, and that's nothing compared with how the superfans next to me lost their minds. So what if it cheats -- Endgame is the end of a beautiful friendship.

-- Richard Trenholm (London)

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And another thing...

Hulk Banner kills the entire concept of the character. Yes, there's comic book precedent for it, but fusing the two sides of the character removes the core premise that makes him work. The mock "Hulk smash" was very funny, but by giving us "the best of both worlds" we've ended up with the true characteristics of neither.

In fact, Hulk is dead. Bruce Banner killed him and is wearing his body like a viper green party suit. I'm supposed to shed tears over the death of Black Widow or Iron Man, but the Incredible Hulk was slaughtered off screen and we just laugh at the selfies. The puny humans finally defeated the Hulk. Boo, I say. BOOOOO!

-- Drew Stearne (London)

Class reunion

First off, Infinity War and Endgame are two very different movies. Though the first felt like a roller coaster full of action, the new Avengers flick feels more like a chess match that turns into a rumble in the jungle -- yes, there are fights, but not as many as in other Marvel movies. Or it's a class reunion full of long-held emotions, where not everyone is where you'd expect them to be. The party is headlined by Captain America and Iron Man, with strong support from Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, Nebula, Rocket, Ant-Man, War Machine and Ronin. And as with many large soirées, you might end up feeling happy you went but not sure of who you actually saw or what exactly happened... but at least you enjoyed the fireworks at the end. You can read my review in Spanish here.

-- Gabriel Sama (San Francisco)

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And ANOTHER thing...

Oh, ALSO, the film continually throws away long-established lore in search of a gag or crowd-pleasing moment. I can just about get Cap being able to wield Thor's hammer, but is he now also the God of Thunder shooting lightning? Because last time I checked, those powers didn't come with the tool. Awesome? Abso-damn-lutely! Still bugs me though.

-- Drew Stearne (London)

Bear witness

It's difficult for me to put into words how perfectly realized Avengers: Endgame is. There was no other way to complete an 11-year narrative that's snowballed into a cinematic feat I feel downright privileged to have witnessed. There were amazingly awesome comic book moments in this film that were so powerful to witness I couldn't help but exclaim! However, the heartfelt character moments show the medium at its best. Its absolute best. These scenes are the reason you care about the last hour of this movie. I can't wait to watch it again.

-- Eric Franklin (San Francisco)

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One MORE thing...

I've seen some negative opinions about the representation of Thor, the fact that his grief and depression have been channeled into drinking and weight gain and that his loss of confidence and drive make light of mental health issues. I'm not sure the MCU is the best place to explore that fittingly, and Marvel bailing on Tony Stark's mental health and addiction issues pretty sharpish showed they weren't going to delve into that angle. What it did do, though, is make me feel better about my own dadbod, so there's that.

-- Drew Stearne (London)

Looking ahead

Avengers: Endgame is the ultimate form of fan service. But after 11 years and 22 films, it's the kind of fan service that seems organic and earned. After deftly balancing the screen time of so many characters in Infinity War -- including a fleshed-out villain in Thanos -- Endgame smartly pares back the focus to the core Avengers crew, giving them a fitting swan song. 

You might be disappointed that some of the newer characters don't get much screen time beyond glorified cameos, but there will be plenty of time for the spotlight to go around in Phase 4. Endgame doesn't always make sense -- inevitable given the plot tricks and twists employed here -- but it has plenty of heart, hits a lot of emotional chords and is just downright funny. The Russo brothers crafted a fitting end to this first era of Marvel films, offering a satisfying conclusion while also laying the groundwork for future films.

-- Roger Cheng (New York)

One LAST thing...

OK, everything that's so good about Endgame more than makes up for anything that's overwritten, under-written or just plain stupid. I laughed, it somehow started raining on the faces of many a grown person in the theatre and there were more than a few cheers. 

Now, if Spider-Man: Far from Home could address how 3 billion people just reappearing doesn't throw the planet into utter chaos, I might be able to sleep at night... 

-- Drew Stearne (London)

The perfect final chapter

I watched Avengers: Endgame at the end of an insane 59-hour marathon featuring all 22 Marvel movies, and no amount of fatigue could diminish the power of this film. It made the entire experience worthwhile. I woke up the next morning still trying to absorb everything that had happened. I feel a mixture of happiness and heartache when I think about it. It was also so satisfying.

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Watching this movie was actually the perfect way to wrap up a marathon during which I was introduced to (many, many) characters and plotlines. It brought everything together so well, and provided much-needed resolution following the ending of Avengers: Infinity War, which had left me thoroughly heartbroken. After Endgame I could sleep soundly, albeit after the thrills and emotions kept me awake for quite a bit.

I'm going to be taking this one in for a while, as one should with any masterpiece. 

-- Abrar Al-Heeti (San Francisco)