Suicide Squad has only been in theaters for a week, but it’s already become a flashpoint for fan discussion. (And yes, that was a DC pun, thank you very much.) Does the movie’s plot make sense? Does it matter? How much of David Ayer’s original vision wound up in the theatrical cut? And maybe the most contentious debate of all: Is the movie better than Warner Bros.’ previous entry in the DC Extended UniverseBatman v Superman: Dawn of Justice?

In an informal Twitter poll yesterday, I found the audience split almost right down the middle, with BvS receiving only a handful more votes than David Ayer’s men-and-one-female-clown-on-a-mission movie. There were passionate partisans on both sides. “Anyone who votes BvS should watch BvS again,” replied one colleague. “BvS is bad but at least it’s bad at what it tried to do,” read another comment.

Around the ScreenCrush offices and in our Slack employee chat room, we’ve gone back and forth about this endlessly. So we’ve decided to settle this debate once (though surely not for all), by putting the two films head to head in a variety of crucial categories and seeing who comes out on top. Ready to find out who reigns supreme in the battle of Batman v Superman v Amanda Waller v Deadshot v A Very Brief Jared Leto Cameo? Let’s do it.

Heroes

BvS has its title characters, the great icons of DC Comics (and really all of superherodom), plus a surprisingly winning turn from Gal Gadot as the new Wonder Woman. The protagonists of Suicide Squad aren’t really heroes, but they’re thrust into that role by Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller; there’s Will Smith’s assassin Deadshot, Margot Robbie’s demented Harley Quinn, Jai Courtney’s amoral Captain Boomerang, and several more characters too inconsequential to waste the time or energy listing their names. With Smith, Robbie, Davis, and Leto, Suicide Squad has a slight edge in star power, but the film rarely gives us any reason to care about their characters, and it doesn’t really explain their value as soldiers for the government or as human beings we should invest our emotions in. At the very least, BvS has two leads we know and love in a pretty important fight (a dumb fight with dumb reasons that comes to a dumb resolution, mind you, but at least the stakes are there).

Winner: Batman v Superman.


Villain

Warner Bros.

This is like the Alien vs. Predator of our debate: whoever wins, we loseBatman v Superman has Jesse Eisenberg, who at least tried something new and different as a kind of Mark Zuckerberg-esque boy genius Lex Luthor. But his scheme to set the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel against one another is beyond confusing, he makes a jar of urine a major plot point, and his behavior surrounding the creation of Doomsday is totally baffling. But that’s still miles better than anything or anyone in Suicide Squad, which barely even has a villain at all. Eventually Squad member Enchantress goes rogue and turns on the rest of the team, necessitating a rescue mission in Midway City. But Enchantress spends most of the film’s second act dancing in front of a portal to another dimension, and her hideous CGI brother looks like a reskin of the Destroyer from Thor.

Winner: Can we say no one? Oh fine, Batman v Superman.


Comic Bookiness

Warner Bros.

Some folks (and a lot of DC fans) treasure the DCEU because they’re “serious” movies that tell stories about comic-book icons for adults. Personally, I like my comic-book movies to feel a little comic book-y, and on that front, Suicide Squad has a slight advantage over BvS. Zack Snyder is so desperate to turn these heroes into mythic titans that he seems to forget a lot of what made fans fall in love with the characters in the first place. To its credit, Suicide Squad does capture some of the off-kilter flavor of classic Suicide Squad comics, with oddball villains like Captain Boomerang and characters with wild backstories like Katana and her soul-devouring sword. Suicide Squad’s more comic book-y elements don’t always mesh well with Ayer’s tendency towards cynicism and intense gun violence, but at least the movie doesn’t seem ashamed of what it is.

Winner: Suicide Squad.


Acting

Warner Bros.

Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck are so miserable as Superman and Batman they basically just scowl for two and a half hours, and Eisenberg’s Luthor is like something out of a Joel Schumacher movie from 20 years ago. For all its problems, at least Suicide Squad lets Will Smith be Will Smith, and gives Robbie a nice showcase for her manic side. Davis is the perfect choice for cynical, sinister Amanda Waller and Leto’s oddball Joker is in so little of the movie he doesn’t even register. This one’s a clear victory for the bad guys.

Winner: Suicide Squad.


Humor

Warner Bros.

Suicide Squad isn’t exactly a laugh riot, but Smith and Robbie have a couple decent zingers. The only comedy in BvS is unintentional. Compared to Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad is practically Airplane!

Winner: Suicide Squad.


Plot Coherence

Neither of these movies are going to win any awards in this department. Luthor’s BvS plan is so convoluted you have to be Braniac to understand it, and Suicide Squad doesn’t even have a plot for its first half-hour. When it finally kicks into gear, Enchantress (who supposedly is kept in check by Waller) reanimates her brother, a power we didn’t know she had, and then starts turning the citizens of Midway City into plant people or something, another power we didn’t know she had. By all accounts, BvS’ Ultimate Edition brings a bit more lucidity to its story, which is better than none at all, so it takes this category by a nose.

Winner: Batman v Superman.


Visuals

Warner Bros.

David Ayer has made some visually striking movies. It’s too bad he didn’t in this case; Suicide Squad is drab, dark, and forgettable. The single best shot in the entire movie is a close-up on Cara Delevingne’s hand as her character gets possessed by the Enchantress. Zack Snyder, whatever his shortcomings as a storyteller, knows how to craft an iconic superhero image. Batman v Superman has plenty of them, from the Batmobile colliding with the Man of Steel and skittering off the road to Batman leaping from the Batwing into a warehouse full of Luthor’s goons. This one’s not close.

Winner: Batman v Superman.


Score

Warner Bros.

Batman v Superman isn’t one of Hans Zimmer’s best scores (he composed it with Junkie XL) but it has its highlights, particularly the badass Wonder Woman themeSuicide Squad is a sonic onslaught, like someone set an endless and not very well curated Spotify playlist to shuffle and then broke their MacBook keyboard so no one could ever turn it off. (I’m pretty sure the song “You Don’t Own Me” is about the Suicide Squad soundtrack album.)

Winner: Batman v Superman.


Length

Warner Bros.

Even before the Ultimate Edition, Batman v Superman runs a punishing (and needlessly bloated) 151 minutes. Suicide Squad clocks in at a lean (if admittedly incoherent) 130 minutes. Suicide Squad might be more painful. But it’s more painful for less time.

Winner: Suicide Squad.


Directorial Stamp

Warner Bros.

Batman v Superman feels like a Zack Snyder movie. His ideological and aesthetic stamp is all over the movie. (Your taste for those things may vary.) Snyder may have had to cut out some of his labyrinthian story and trim some of the violence and action to get a PG-13 rating, but there’s no question who made BvS (it feels even more like Snyder’s past work than Man of Steel, which was produced by Christopher Nolan and bore a little of his authorial style). Beyond its basic premise, which has echoes in many of David Ayer’s movies, Suicide Squad hardly resembles anything he’s ever made before. In hindsight, the stories in the media about two different Suicide Squad cuts being made right up until the movie’s release make perfect sense; the finished product feels like something that was started with one intent (a dark, gritty action picture) and released with another (a lively, bouncy adventure). Messy as it may be, Batman v Superman feels like one person’s mess.  Suicide Squad feels like it was made by a focus group that couldn’t make up its mind what it wanted.

Winner: Batman v Superman.


Characters Named Martha

Both Batman and Superman have mothers named Martha, and both women appear in BvS. Later, during their climactic fight, the fact that both men have moms named Martha finally ends their violent struggle. Suicide Squad, on the other hand, has a disgraceful lack of Marthas. Not a single one! Everyone knows Marthas can fix an problem. Why even make a movie if you’re not going to put a Martha in it? Shameful.

Winner: Batman v Superman.


Which would you rather watch again?

Rewatchability is a crucial part of a superhero movie’s appeal; I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen The Avengers or Spider-Man 2 or The Dark Knight. I’ve already seen BvS twice in theaters, and if I didn’t have a 7-month-old baby, I’d have already watched the Ultimate Edition as well. Curiosity could probably drive me to a Suicide Squad Ultimate Edition if one emerges next year, if only to see what the hell Ayer wanted to do before the studio started meddling. Rewatching the theatrical cut of the movie? No thank you.

Winner: Batman v Superman


Final Score:

8-4 in favor of the Dawn of Justice. Therefore, your clear winner and superior film (and Martha Delivery Device) is Batman v Superman. You’re welcome.