To answer the original question, there is no doubt in my mind that the 787 is more innovative that the A380. The definition of innovative that I use in this context is "the application of an existing technology in a radically new way".
Airbus have taken a progressive approach to developing new materials applications (e.g. GLARE, CFC centre wingbox - which is a pretty impressive application on a wing that size, more advanced aluminium alloys etc), and AT
THE TIME OF
ITS DESIGN the A380 probably (I'm not an expert..) moved the game on beyond existing designs. Airbus have certainly done a lot of work on modular assembly which pleases the production engineer in me. But there is little application of technology in a radically new way
The 787, on the other hand, being designed some 4 or so years later, takes a radical approach, making each section of the fuse in a SINGLE PIECE carbon-fibre layup, which has to be the ultimate in modular construction - PHENOMENAL!
I think engines deserve a mention. Again, I'm no expert, but I understand traditional High-bypass turbofans to have bypass ratios of 5 to 6.
The engines on the A380 (Trent 900 + GP7200) have driven this up to 8.5 - 9 in the search for efficiency. I understand this to be the same for the GE90 -115 (someone correct me?)
Trent 1000 and GEnx for 787/A350 have moved the game to 11 - 11.5. As A350 said, it's interesting that most of these engines are roughly the same size (GE90 a bit bigger), with the high BPR engines being less powerful.
I'm a huge fan of the A380, and I think it's great that Airbus had the balls to build it. However, as a Production Engineer, there's no question that the 787 approach is a much more holistic, and elegant solution, that takes REAL balls.
I'm not nearly knowledgeable enough to be able to quantify the benefits of a complete CFC fuse vs CFC major components, GLARE, and high-tech Al-Li alloys. Is there anyone out there who can comment on CFC vs high tech alloys/GLARE etc? I'd be really interested.