It’s official: The world’s favorite ‘shroom-eating plumber is now a Matrix-level action hero.

A new, independent web series called Mario Warfare has taken the colorful world of the Mushroom Kingdom and turned it into a dark, gritty war zone. The series, which recently debuted on the YouTube channel of production company Beat Down Boogie, has already received over 300,000 for the first episode alone. When you feast your eyes upon Mario Warfare‘s  violent, sleek, inventive style, you’ll understand why.

While the series could use a few more homages to the original video game, Mario Warfare understandably suffers from the Batman problem: it is difficult to make a dark and gritty adaptation of a source material that’s so darn silly. Christopher Nolan solved this issue by making his Batman films so darn good they gave viewers a good reason to suspend disbelief. Mario Warfare attempts to use a similar strategy, utilizing professional-level production quality and briskly choreographed gun fu fight scenes inspired by Equilibrium. The result is an engrossing final product, one that held my attention even when I remembered it is inspired by a smiling Italian man with a fox tail.

Beat Down Boogie previously scored a hit with Modern War Gear Solid, a crossover between Modern Warfare and Metal Gear Solid that also turned a zany concept into an unflinching action series. Several installments of Modern War Gear Solid topped two million views, and its success warranted a recent DVD release. Judging by the early numbers for Mario Warfare, don’t be surprised if it reaches or exceeds those heights.

At least two more episodes are on the way; Beat Down Boogie would love to make more, but (surprise surprise!) they need money. If their series jazzes you, they’ve set up a Kickstarter page and need more than $13,000 to reach their goal. If you’d like your Mario adaptations to have more oomph than Super Mario Beads, now your chance to lend a hand.

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