When the Justice League crew took the stage at Comic-Con International’s Hall H on Saturday—minus Henry Cavill, whose Superman is technically dead—they did so to a standing ovation, with the loudest screams reserved for Gal Gadot/Wonder Woman. But as the banter started and the footage rolled, there was one thing missing: their director. Joss Whedon, one of geekdom’s most beloved auteurs, took over Justice League a few months ago following the death of director Zack Snyder’s daughter, and some (OK, us) had speculated the director would make a grand return to Comic-Con for his latest film.
He didn’t—but that doesn’t mean his presence wasn’t felt. Because at the panel, just days after reports that Whedon was doing “extensive reshoots” for the movie, Warner Bros. released a new trailer for the film that demonstrated one thing is for certain: Justice League is turning into a Joss Whedon movie.
First signal that we’re working with a Whedon joint: the new trailer opens on Wonder Woman taking on a machine-gun-wielding group of heavies. Sure, Warners would be fools to not harness the power of the highest-grossing movie of the summer, but don’t forget that badass heroines are kind of Joss’ thing—or at least one of them. Considering that he started work on the movie before Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman opened, chances seem good that he moved Godot’s character into the forefront. The fact that she’s positioned as the rational, together one throughout the rest of the proceedings feels very Whedonesque as well.
Exhibit B: The Flash, played by Ezra Miller. Barry Allen was already being portrayed as the new kid on the block (as well as the comedic relief) at last year‘s Hall H panel. But in the new trailer unveiled today, he and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) are the insecure rookies—and Whedon loves an outcast.
But more than anything, the biggest difference between the new trailer and anything we’ve seen out of Justice League before is the visual tone. Outside of the bigger action scenes with new villain Steppenwolf and some night shots, the dark patina Snyder gives to his films has faded away. It’s still darker than anything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but this latest peek shows a movie much lighter on its feet than anything fans have seen before—more Wonder Woman than Dawn of Justice. It’s even got a possibly-Superman-teasing button at the end that feels like a Marvel post-credits scene. Through and through, it shows off the kind of heroics that made Wonder Woman a hit and Avengers Whedon’s calling card.
Justice League doesn’t hit theaters until November 17. That may seem like a long way from now, but it’s a relatively short amount of time for Whedon to take a three-fourths-baked movie and make it jibe with his vision. Of course he didn’t make to Comic-Con—he’s working. Joss Whedon may not have been sitting in Hall H this year, but he’s definitely back.