When Disney bought Lucasfilm and the rights to everything Star Wars from George Lucas in 2012, there was an explosion of speculation about what this would mean for the franchise. Some worried that this would mean a dumbing down of any future movies for a younger audience. Others noted how well Disney handled Marvel Studios and how badly Lucasfilm was already managing Star Wars. Now we’re getting our first look at Disney’s take on the series with Star Wars Rebels, an animated action series that just premiered on their own Disney XD cable network.

After Disney bought Lucasfilm, it was no surprise when they brought competitor Cartoon Network’s Star Wars: The Clone Wars series to an end so they could create something of their own. And with a similar computer-animated look and some of the same production crew, it’s hard not to compare the newer show to The Clone Wars.

The biggest change, and the one most likely to have been pushed by Disney, is the time period in relation to the movies in which it’s set. The Clone Wars was set firmly within the “prequels”, between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. While that setting is more familiar to younger fans, many older fans continue to be lukewarm about those movies. No matter how well-written The Clone Wars was, it couldn’t quite break out of that.

Rebels brings things back to their roots. Taking place 5 years before the first Star Wars movie (A New Hope, NOT The Phantom Menace), it leaves behind the political maneuvering and moral questions of The Clone Wars in favor of scruffy outlaws fighting against an Evil Empire. While the producers promise familiar characters from the original trilogy, none of them appeared in the pilot, and that was actually kind of refreshing. There are no preteen Skywalkers here. Instead, the story focuses on a street rat named Ezra from an Outer Rim planet that’s feeling the Empire’s jackboots against its neck and the vigilante crew of a smuggling ship who he falls in with. Another refreshing thing is Ezra’s brown skin and broad nose. While the Imperials tend to look white, the humans on the ship’s crew are much more racially vague, with varied skin tones and dark (or brightly dyed) hair. Rebels already has more Humans of Color than the original Star Wars movies.

For all the concern about this being a more “kid-friendly” series, Rebels is more than happy to show the harm done by the Empire’s oppression — and more than happy to kill Stormtroopers. This isn’t about political intrigues or the Dark Side, but it is about the harm that can be done by a heavily militarized totalitarian government. The crew visits a shantytown inhabited by displaced farmers to deliver food before heading off on a tip to free some Wookiees heading for enslavement at an Imperial work prison. It’s a much more comfortable place than the moral vagaries of the prequels and much easier to connect to our own world. But with a Jedi on the ship and Ezra showing Force sensitivity, it’ll undoubtedly be comfortably set in A Galaxy Far Far Away, too.

You can catch Star Wars Rebels on Disney XD Monday nights at 9:00pm, or streaming online through iTunes and the Disney XD web site.