Following the destruction of the Death Star, Imperial forces pursue the Rebel Alliance to the ice planet Hoth. After a devastating defeat, Luke Skywalker journeys to the planet Dagobah to train with the Jedi Master Yoda. Meanwhile, in the Cloud City of Bespin, Darth Vader attempts to lure Luke into a trap by kidnapping Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Princess Leia. When Luke comes to their rescue, he must fight a fierce lightsaber duel with Darth Vader himself and come face to face with a stunning revelation that could change his destiny.
Three years after the destruction of the Death Star, the Rebel Alliance has been driven from their former base on Yavin IV by the Galactic Empire. Princess Leia leads a contingent including Han Solo and Luke Skywalker in a new base on the ice planet Hoth. The Imperial Fleet, led by Darth Vader, continues to hunt for the Rebels’ new base by dispatching probe droids across the galaxy.
While investigating a potential meteor strike, Luke is captured by a wampa. He manages to escape from its cave with his lightsaber, but soon succumbs to the brutally cold temperatures. The spirit of his late mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, instructs him to go to the Dagobah system to train under Jedi Master Yoda. He is found by Han, who uses the warmth of his dead tauntaun for shelter and brings him back to base to recover.
On patrol, Han and Chewbacca discover the asteroid is actually a probe droid, which alerts the Imperial Fleet to the Rebels’ location. The Empire launches a large-scale attack, using AT-AT Walkers to capture the base. Han and Leia escape on the Millennium Falcon with C-3PO and Chewbacca, but their hyperspace drive malfunctions. They hide in an asteroid field, where Han and Leia grow closer. Vader summons bounty hunters including the notorious Boba Fett to assist in finding the Falcon. Luke, meanwhile, escapes with R2-D2 in his X-wing fighter and crash-lands on the swamp planet Dagobah. He meets a diminutive creature who is revealed to be Yoda; after conferring with Obi-Wan’s spirit Yoda reluctantly accepts Luke as his pupil.
After evading the Imperial Fleet, Han sets a course for Cloud City, a floating gas mining colony in the skies of the planet Bespin hosted by Han’s old friend, Lando Calrissian. Unknowingly, the Millennium Falcon has been tracked by Boba Fett; shortly after they arrive, Lando leads the group into a trap and they are handed over to Darth Vader. Vader plans to use the group as bait to lure out Luke with the intent of capturing him alive and presenting him to his master, the Emperor. During his intensive training on Dagobah, Luke sees a premonition of Han and Leia in pain and, against Yoda’s wishes, leaves to save them.
Vader reneges on his agreement with Lando and takes Leia and Chewbacca into custody. He intends to hold Luke in suspended animation via carbon freezing, and as a test freezes Han in a block of carbonite. He hands the frozen Han over to Fett, who intends to leave for Tatooine to deliver Han to Jabba the Hutt to claim a bounty. Lando, who was unwillingly forced into cooperating with the Empire, initiates an escape and frees Leia and the others. They try to save Han but are unable to stop Fett from departing, and flee Cloud City in the Falcon.
Luke arrives at Cloud City and falls into Vader’s trap. The two engage in a lightsaber duel that leads them over the city’s central air shaft where, as his mentors warned, Luke proves to be no match for Vader who severs Luke’s right hand, causing him to lose his weapon. After Luke refuses to join Vader against the Emperor, Vader reveals that he is Luke’s father. Horrified, Luke falls through the air shaft. He is ejected beneath the floating city and makes a desperate telepathic plea to Leia, who senses it and persuades Lando to return for him in the Falcon. R2-D2 repairs the Falcon’s hyperdrive, allowing them to escape the Imperial Fleet and a now-despondent Vader.
Later aboard a Rebel medical frigate, Luke’s amputated hand is replaced with a robotic prosthetic hand, as Lando and Chewbacca set off in the Falcon to find Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett in order to save Han. As the Falcon departs, Luke, Leia, R2-D2, and C-3PO look on and await their contact.