It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood -- for death -- in Adi Shankar's latest Bootleg Universe short, which imagines Mister Rogers as a stone-cold killer with a heart of gold before his gentle smile and voice hit the television airwaves in 1968.
"Mr. Rogers: A War Hero," produced by Shankar ("Castlevania," "Dredd") and directed by Kenlon Clark, dropped Tuesday to coincide with what would have been Fred Rogers' 90th birthday, if he was still alive.
The short film -- or One Shot, as Shankar refers to the various installments in his series of unlicensed reimagining of popular characters, including The Punisher, James Bond and The Power Rangers -- focuses on Mister Rogers reflecting on his life before his iconic children's television show "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."
"Confession time," Rogers says in the film. "Before becoming America's surrogate educational father, I'd originally desired to become a minister. I'd grown tired of the suffering in the world. I'd been given many unusual gifts, but struggled to find a safe place for their employ. Evil had become pervasive, the weak were being preyed upon. And although our creator is a being of mercy, he is also a being of justice. Some of the gifts I'd been blessed with were a merciful heart, courage, a sound mind, not to mention a deadly right hook."
And what better place to use those particular set of skills than joining the Army?
Watch Mister Rogers tear it up in the jungle and learn how to be a good neighbor to his brothers in combat in the video above.
In a statement accompanying the short, Shankar explained why he chose to turn this symbol of peace and love into an gritty action hero.
"When I was young my heroes had magazords, adamantium claws, and vampire slaying whips. They were spectacular and unlocked my imagination. But after the events of the past few years my heroes have changed, and now anyone who selflessly enriches a child's life is a hero to me," Shankar said. "This entry is a love letter to a man who showed us what being a good neighbor looks like."