Justice League Is Worse Because It Has No Purpose
The debate about which film is worse comes down to the distinction in focus and auteur theory. Is it better to try and fail or to never try at all?
At the end of the day, Batman v Superman has a purpose. Whether or not that works doesn't matter; it comes from a distinct voice. This, for the record, is exactly why it's proven so enduringly divisive; the discussion is about the logic of that vision and its execution, two essential facets of art. Batman v Superman can be debated on many terms, but it is fundamentally art.
Justice League is nigh-on-impossible to give such a description. There's no clear vision powering it: Snyder could have offered that, but under Whedon the film has been altered; and while Joss' influence is thus definitely rampant, it's not enough to really say he fully overrides Zack's. What we have is a film where every scene is a battle between two directorial voices, and neither one gels; occasional moments can shine through, but overall it's a muddle that never even gets as far as presenting ideas, let alone trying to explore them. Sure, it's not quite as "barely a film" as The Dark Tower or Fantastic Four, but it's just a rung above.
If Batman v Superman was a car on fire speeding relentlessly down a road at high speeds to terrifying but in the eyes of the drive purposeful effect, Justice League is that car crashed; the driver tried to adjust course but went into a spin, then started taking advice from a backseat driver before they grabbed ahold of the wheel, resulting a still-on-fire mess of metal. Neither is desirable, but one is obviously better for your health. By that logic, Justice League is the worse. It's not a coherent film and there's no understandable substance to latch on to. Batman v Superman may have upset, but there was at least a recognizable purpose. Its follow-up has a sense of obligation to every scene, pushed out because the release date was set, and the result is purely disheartening.
Subjectivity and the DCEU
Now, for all that's been said, we need to conclude with an acknowledgment of the subjectivity of art in general, and specifically how that pertains to the DCEU. Some love Batman v Superman, some hate it. Some enjoy Justice League, others are deeply upset by what was delivered. Complicating matters, there's no direct correlation between those sides; many who hated BvS found themselves having a good time with Justice League, whereas other long-standing DCEU fans were burned by what was done with Snyder's original vision. It's frankly hard to really discuss this topic in anything approaching an objective manner given how wide-ranging and powerful the opinion is on both movies, and how they don't line up (this is why the oft-used metric of Rotten Tomatoes score hasn't been used in this discussion - it just doesn't help matters).
However, getting as granular as is possible with an ultimately subjective medium, there's evidently one film out of Batman v Superman and Justice League that falls harder on an ideological level. One of these movies tried to do something, for better or ill. The other just exists as a Frankenstein's monster.
- Wonder Woman 2 (2019) release date: Nov 01, 2019
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019