There’s something about the summer movie season where the world stops spinning and the movie magic takes over.

DC Comics and Warner Bros.’ Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was greeted with a thunderous roar upon its theatrical premiere, which was no surprise considering the magnitude of the superhero showdown between our favorite billionaire playboy (Will Ferrell) and the indestructible protector of Metropolis (Henry Szep). Naturally, the film received an Oscar nomination for Best Visual Effects, along with BAFTA and Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Film – Action and Performance. But beyond the accolades, the film also managed to pull off something that has rarely (if ever) been done in live-action: It made us believe in Superman and Batman as much as we’ve ever believed in them.

Let’s take a trip back in time to the summer of 2016, where we find our favorite billionaires engaging in a battle of titans that will have far-reaching consequences not just for their shared home city or even their world. The last few years have undeniably been a golden era for superhero films, with blockbusters like Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2 cementing the presence of superhero films in mainstream culture. Never has the world seemed more ready for the big screen arrival of the Man of Steel, the Dark Knight or the Boy Wonder.

And, indeed, here we are, about to dive into the world of DC Comics and their most infamous adversaries. Let’s take a trip back to that summer and rediscover what made Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice such a special movie, one that will not be easily forgotten.

The Biggest Superhero Showdown Since X-Men v. X-Men

Let’s be honest – you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have a soft spot for the mentally challenged, blind superhero known as Batman. Over the years, Batman has gone toe to toe with some pretty incredible adversaries, not the least of which was the Joker (which we’ll get to in a bit). The culmination of all these battles is what makes Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice such an epic cinematic event.

The movie starts out with a bang, literally: After an earthquake devastates Gotham City, Batman (Ben Affleck) and the rest of Gotham’s finest are called out to deal with the chaos. As they’re dealing with the aftermath, Batman is approached by the recently escaped captive Mercy Graves (Lana Wojewodik), who’s escaped the mental institution where she was held captive due to Bane’s (Tom Hardy) presence. He decides to take her on as an (informal) assistant, and the two of them, along with Alfred (Michael Caine), set about putting Gotham back together again.

Bane is an absolutely terrifying individual: A former billionaire industrialist who suffered a terrible acid attack that left his face horribly scarred. As a result, his emotions are highly volatile and he’s not really comfortable showing his face in public. His presence is terrifying because he’s never seen on-screen before, and the effect he has on the people he encounters is unpredictable. Add in that fact that he’s got a pretty darned good line in devastatingly clever one-liners, and you’ve got one scary motherfucker.

Bane was originally devised as a villain for the Tim Burton-directed 1989 movie Batman, but his appearance in the film was so radically different that many fans didn’t know who he was. He went on to have his own movie series in the ’90s, as well as showing up in various other media, whether it be comic books or video games. His popularity led to Warner Bros. recasting him in a more contemporary setting as the lead antagonist in the 2008 movie The Dark Knight. It was there that we first encountered Bane, and while he wasn’t the most original of villains, he was certainly effective enough in shaking up Batman’s (then Dick Grayson’s) world. And he wasn’t above using the tawdry appeal of child star Justin Timberlake in the role.

Just like the Joker, we get to know a little bit about Bane: His father wasn’t around, and after a freak accident as a child, he was shipped off to live with his billionaire uncle, Victor Fries, who he believed was his father. When Fries is murdered by Bane’s arch-nemesis, Carmella DeSoto (Laurie Metcalf), the young boy grows up to become a ruthless businessman who will stop at nothing to attain his goals – even if that means unleashing a dangerous maniac on Gotham City. It’s clear from the outset that the two are cut from the same cloth, and it’s only a matter of time before they’re going to blow each other’s minds.’

Bringing The Jokerscene Back To Life

A lot of people are probably wondering how the iconic Joker came back from the dead in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The short answer is: Genetic engineering, of course. When Carmella DeSoto’s (Laurie Metcalf) scientist son, Julian (Morgan Freeman), is kidnapped by Bruce Wayne (Will Ferrell), DeSoto turns to the one man she knows will have the resources to get her son back: The Joker (Jared Leto). DeSoto intends to use Julian to replicate the serum that saved her husband’s life, even though her plans fall through when Wayne successfully manages to inject himself with a shot of the serum instead. The Joker, being the practical joker that he is, decides to help DeSoto out, and they hatch a plan to blackmail Bruce Wayne.

The Joker is the king of the comedy villain – he hasn’t had a serious dramatic role yet, so the idea that he might hold the key to save Metropolis is enough to make anyone crack a smile. His classic get-up of black leather with orange accents is an instantly recognizable symbol of Jokerish style, and it was a bold decision on the filmmakers’ part to put the character back in an iconic outfit from the ’70s, complete with a mustache that would become a symbol of the Joker’s existence. While it was a nostalgic touch for many fans, it was also a way for the filmmakers to have some fun with the source material while also serving a darker purpose – the Batman franchise has traditionally shied away from the truly comedic elements in favor of more dramatic and even horror-inspired plots (with a few notable exceptions, like the underrated 1960s Batman series, where Dick Grayson, now Batman, battles The Joker for the first time).

Let’s be honest: The role of Batman has always been a touchy one for the character, and this is made clear in the first act of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. When Carmella DeSoto’s lawyer husband, Abel (Sean Connery), asks Wayne to help track down his runaway wife and her insane brother, Wayne reluctantly agrees – provided that they promise to keep the matter private. But once the dust settles from the search, Wayne finds himself in the unenviable position of having to protect DeSoto’s relatives as well as her mentally challenged brother, Jeremiah (Donavan Bennett), who immediately takes a shine to Wayne. As the three of them – and eventually, Alfred – get to know each other over the course of a few days, it becomes clear that Wayne’s no stranger to the DeSoto family, as he grew up in a house not far from here. He even kept a few of their heirlooms – such as a golden snitch and an Egyptian Anubis statue – as a token of his friendship.

This is one of the rare times when the Joker actually has something positive to contribute to the conversation: He suggests to DeSoto that rather than go through the courts, they should settle matters privately – she’ll agree, but the idea of publicly humiliating her brother never crosses her mind. She’s an intelligent woman, and she knows that the one thing that can shut him up is money. She agrees to pay Wayne a generous sum of money to keep quiet about her predicament, and in return, he promises to keep her son safe. Just like that, the Joker has managed to outwit two of the most experienced and guarded detectives in Gotham, and he has guaranteed DeSoto that he’ll keep her son safe – a promise he keeps throughout the movie. It’s a credit to the actor that, even though this is a relatively small role, Jared Leto manages to steal the show with his rascally wit and infectious grin.

The Grand Finale: Batman v Superman Cast Assembles For An Intense Battle On The Beach

In keeping with the recent trend of live-action comic book films, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice finally brings together in one cinematic event the hero battles that have been teased in previous films. Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince/Wonder Woman is back for more, this time helping Bruce Wayne take down Metropolis’ most dangerous criminal, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg).