Joss Whedon may be best known for both Firefly and The Avengers, but the director has also done a number of notable side projects over the past few years, which have grown popular with smaller, more niche audiences. His 2012 adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, for example, was fairly well received among critics. Unlike some of his previous big-budget action films, Whedon elected to work on a smaller scale, shooting the whole film at his house in just under two weeks.
Perhaps a little more memorable than that, however, is Whedon’s web film Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Comprised of three individual episodes, the entirety of Dr. Horrible runs just under 45 minutes, following the titular Dr. Horrible and his exploits to become a full-fledged supervillain. Starring Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, Felicia Day, and Simon Helberg, the musical-comedy enjoyed overwhelmingly positive reviews and has since risen to cult status among its core fanbase.
Whedon himself funded Dr. Horrible with the budget being around $200,000, allowing himself to have full creative control free from studio interference. Even then, as Whedon revealed during a brief Q&A session of the film at Paleyfest (via Variety), the director ended up making more money off of Dr. Horrible than 2012’s The Avengers, which grossed over $1.5 billion dollars at the box office during its run. For its sequel — Avengers: Age of Ultron — Whedon received substantially more, although he did assure that it was under the rumored $100 million paycheck.
Also in attendance at the film’s screening were its stars: Neil Patrick Harris, Nathan Fillion, and Felicia Day. During the Q&A, the quartet reminisced about the making of the film and its positive reception, with Harris saying, “I do enjoy the purity of its success. It just was what it was.” Whedon had originally intended to pursue studio backing for the movie, but instead decided to do it out of his own wallet, joking, “This is my mid-life crisis. It isn’t a car — it’s an Internet musical.”
Dr. Horrible came at a time when Internet video was not at the heights of popularity it has reached today, which makes its success that much more remarkable. As Felicia Day remarked, “This is before the Internet was inside everyone all the time.” As for what inspired him to go the digital route of release, Whedon cited Day’s web series The Guild as the source of the model he followed.
When questioned about a potential sequel to Dr. Horrible, Whedon was ultimately unsure, saying the status of development for it “is where it’s been for a long time.” Following the film’s premiere, Whedon and company began brainstorming ideas for a sequel. However, Whedon remarks that at the same time he “went to work at Marvel, and the rest is a blur.” Now that Age of Ultron has come and passed, Whedon has no other projects lined up at the moment, which could provide the perfect opportunity to move forward with the Dr. Horrible sequel. Given Whedon’s recent comments, however, it looks like the Dr. Horrible sequel’s unchanging status may remain the same for a while longer.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is available to watch online and on Blu-ray. The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron are also available on Digital HD and Blu-ray. We’ll have more news on Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog 2 as it develops.