A Man Took One Superhero Photo Every Day for a Year and Created Something Remarkable

Danny Neumann's surpringly funny and touching project ends today as he celebrates 365 adventures for the Superneumanns.
@thesuperneumanns/Instagram

One of the most ambitious superhero projects of the year has just concluded — and it never broke box-office records or wowed Comic-Con with a splashy trailer.

Every day for a year, action figure historian Danny Neumann has been releasing carefully staged photos chronicling the mundane (and surprisingly touching) adventures of a family called the Superneumanns. Over 365 shots, he introduced a cast of characters who populate the world of Mr. and Mrs. Superneumann — from mainstays like Batman and Wonder Woman to Lex Luthor and Bizarro — and even Donald Trump.

Through it all, Neumann was able to incorporate elements of his own life and also mark happy moments (holidays) and pay tribute to national tragedies.

Here's how it all began one year ago, with the family moving into their home:

 

No. 001 of 365 Move-in day.

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No. 002 of 365 A little heavy lifting.

 

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No. 005 of 365 No stepladder.

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He initially conceived of the shots taking place largely within a dollhouse acquired for the project, but the family quickly outgrew it — forcing Neumann to search Ebay for props and sets he could use.

"They needed to go exploring and go elsewhere and go on adventures," Neumann tells Heat Vision. "Because of the relentless schedule, concepting ideas is a big part of it. But once I have the ideas, then I have to figure out, 'Do I have enough props to pull that off?' And if not, 'Do I have enough time to make it?' and if not, 'Can I order it and get it here on time so it all works?"

 

No. 016 of 365 Meet the neighbors.

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Early on, he established that the Superneumann's favorite neighbors are a gay couple, who are first introduced bringing over some food as a welcome to the neighborhood gift. It's a touching nod to the modern sensibilities of the project, which in other ways looks like it was created 50 years ago. 

"It was important to me to include that small bit of diversity early on to set a tone for this," he says.

 

No. 318 of 365 Super "Twinkle Toes" Neumann #NationalBowlingDay

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No. 319 of 365 Pretty sure the rule book doesn't say anything about blowing your opponents ball into the gutter.

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Because of the grueling schedule, much of what Neumann did was preplanned, with him generally having a week of photos already in the bank. But he'd adjust when momentous events happened that he couldn't ignore. One such event was the untimely passing of music legend David Bowie in January.

 

No. 103 of 365 Space Oddity

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"I remember waking up that morning, and I already had a shot for that day, and I'm like, 'Oh my gosh,'" he recalls. "My wife said, 'You need to do a tribute.' I said, 'I'm late for work already,' but I dropped everything and did this simple tribute and it turned out to be one of my most popular shots. I am glad to have done that."

 

No. 257 of 365 Super Neumanns in solidarity.

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Another tragedy struck six months later, when a gunman killed dozens of people at Pulse, a gay club in Orlando. That inspired the most arresting image of the entire series, one which initially was very different — and involved Mr. and Mrs. Superneumann hugging their neighbors in a show of solidarity.

"It was OK, but there was something not right about it and I didn't feel comfortable," says Neumann. "It didn't feel good enough or something. So I went back to the drawing board. I woke up in the morning and I looked out the window and there are these beautiful clouds, which is unusual for Phoenix [where he lives with his wife, Meagan]. I just got the idea of a very simple shot of Superman flying back to the camera and to make his cape a rainbow cape and make that be the simple tribute."

 

No. 138 of 365 A hero.

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Those types of tributes were a hallmark of the series, with endearing shots of the Superneumanns at picnics with DC heroes intercut with Mr. Superneumann with his arm around a G.I. Joe for Memorial Day or the couple looking at a Abraham Lincoln statue for President's Day.

 

No. 221 of 365 Happy Mother's Day, Super Moms!

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No. 243 of 365 Memorial Day

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No. 341 of 365 Labor Day For the most part, I've tried to keep The Super Neumanns politics-free. But, since it's Labor Day I figured I could indulge a little. Plus, I've been dying to showcase this great custom by @jstephensdesign . I completely understand that folks may disagree with Bernie philosophically but I think, by and large, most respected his honesty, integrity, and passion.

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No. 348 of 365 Jump scare: imminent. #nationalvideogameday

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No. 353 of 365 The Bat Roast #batmanday

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No. 357 of 365 Peace talks. #internationaldayofpeace

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Another mainstay of the series is a young boy Mr. Superneumann is mentoring via the Big Superheroes/Big Superheroines program, which was inspired by Neumann's real-life experience in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. (His Little Brother of 10 years recently began college.) 

 

No. 124 of 365 Meeting his match through the Big Heroes/Big Heroines program.

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No. 178 of 365 Dying eggs.

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No. 192 of 365 Wherein Little Hero explains Minecraft. Lots of @dantdm time lately at the Super Neumann's home

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No. 203 of 365 I really did mean "gentle!"

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No. 271 of 365 What's wrong with this picture?

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No. 272 of 365 The Tramp

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No. 346 of 365 Up, up, and away.

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One of the most challenging shots came when he sent the Superneumanns to watch Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (how could they not?) — because he had tracked down individual chairs from a 1960s-era theater set, buying each online, one at a time. 

"Batman and Wonder Woman are a couple in this little universe," Neumann says. "That's something that was established in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, which I'm a huge fan of."

 

No. 176 of 365 That's my seat.

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No. 177 of 365 Down in front!

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Given the immense amount of work he put into it (with the help and support of his wife), Neumann is understandably emotional as he thinks about the project's end (we spoke to him on Tuesday as he prepared the final shot). 

"I'm emotionally attached to these inanimate objects. I'm half on the verge of tears shooting this shot," he admits.

 

No. 333 of 365 Busy Day 2: How can I help Smokey?

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No. 363 of 365 Meeting up with the neighbors. When I first started this project a lot of the motivation had to do with just being more productive. A consistent creative outlet. What I failed to anticipate was all the friends I'd make along the way. (Many may even remember when the neighbors here were introduced back in No. 16!) Closing in on the last shot, it's feeling like I'm just walking away from all of you who've followed and supported and cheered on The Super Neumanns. That's making the conclusion bittersweet. I'm not sure what comes next but, for the time being, I will transition back to my original @cantinadanny page. Anywho, I just wanted to say with today's shot that one of the best things to come from this project are you guys, my Super Friends.

A photo posted by HOME WITH THE SUPER NEUMANNS (@thesuperneumanns) on

 

No. 364 of 365 Up and away. Thank you so much for all the amazing and heartwarming comments yesterday! I will respond to each soon. I hope I didn't make it seem like that was the last photo. Still today's and tomorrow's.

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For the final shot, he and his wife looked at iconic endings of classic films, but ultimately went for something simple: an elderly Mr. and Mrs. Superneumann looking back at a photo album. To make it work, he went back to his friend who designed the original figures, and asked him to create new heads for the characters. 

"Maybe this past year has been them looking through a photo album at old memories," says Neumann. "I think it will create a little bit of a double take. You're used to seeing them with black hair and now they'll have white hair and he has a mustache. 'Wait what is going on here?' As soon as you figure it out it's kind of endearing."

 

No. 365 of 365 So many memories. It is proving very difficult to chose the right words as I post this last shot. I could go on and on about all the details of the project and my thoughts regarding "one thing a day for a year" endeavors. Another time. Today I just want to celebrate these characters and their little world and their year of domestic adventures. And, of course, all of you who have become a part of the family! Thanks from the bottom of my heart for cheering it on. So many of you have asked about the possibility of a book. One way or another, I'll make that happen. Gotta have something to do on day 366! Stay super, my friends! - Danny Neumann

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Head over to the Superneumanns Instagram account to see all 365 photos. 

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