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The film begins with the disguised Joker and various clown masked henchmen robbing a mob-owned bank, and systematically double crossing each other. Eventually the only one remaining is the disguised Joker, who reveals himself to the bank owner and then takes the money for himself and drives away in a school bus. That night, multiple Batman impersonators, armed with guns, interrupt a drug deal/meeting between the Chechen and his gangsters and the Scarecrow. The real Batman shows up and manages to subdue everyone. However, he is hit multiple times and is brutally bitten in weak spots of his armor by Rottweiler dogs. Sustaining such injuries suffered during the confrontation force him to make the decision of acquiring a new, more versatile suit of armor.

With the rise of Criminal Underworld, D.A. Harvey Dent begins to place more and more criminals behind bars, even manages to defend himself against an assassination attempt by knocking out his would-be assassin. Batman and Lieutenant James Gordon contemplate bringing Dent in on their plan to eradicate the mob, and the possibility that Dent will become the hero to the people that Batman cannot be. Harvey is nicknamed the ‘White Knight of Gotham’ and the Police have their own nickname for him. At the same time, Bruce Wayne and Harvey are both competing for the love of Rachel Dawes; however, Dawes and Dent are romantically involved in a relationship.

The mob bosses see this combined effort of Harvey Dent, Batman and Gotham City Police as a threat and decide to meet to discuss how to handle it. A Chinese mobster accountant, Lau, lets the gang leaders know that he has taken their money to Hong Kong to prevent the police and the district attorney from seizing it in an imminent bank raid. The Joker arrives and proposes to kill Batman for them, and also tries to convince them that Lau will give them all up to the police if he is caught. The mob bosses are not sure if they should take up the Joker’s offer, who leaves his ‘card’ behind for them to contact him. Realizing the threat and the need of taking down Lau and finding the mob bosses money, Wayne is given highly more adjustable and maneuverable equipment for his suit by Lucius Fox. Also included in Batman’s new armor is a new designed helmet, allowing Wayne’s head to turn and arm gauntlets that are able to project the defense spikes. Taking the suit with him, Fox then travels with Mr. Wayne to Hong Kong and gives Wayne a sonar-device that can lock onto cell phones and emit a visual image of the phone’s surroundings. That night Batman, donning his new suit, manages to infiltrate Lau’s office, take out the protection and escape with Lau. After Batman successfully returns to Gotham he delivers Lau to the Gotham City police. Lau makes a deal with the D.A. and Attorney Rachel Dawes to give the name of all of his clients in return for being placed on county watch. The mob bosses are all placed under arrest. However, a few mobsters manage to evade the prison system. They then agree to pay the Joker half of their money in return for killing Batman. The Joker broadcasts a message to all of Gotham stating that if the Batman does not turn himself in to the police, then he will kill innocent people every day. The Joker gives various clues as to who he plans on killing next and begins murdering public officials, including Commissioner Loeb and a city official judge and Harvey Dent and succeeds in killing the Commissioner and the Judge.

At a fund raising party thrown for Dent by Bruce, Harvey asks Rachel, in a private area, if she will marry him. Before she can give a full answer Harvey is locked in a room just as the Joker interrupts the party, wanting to know where Harvey is so that he can kill him. When the Joker cannot find Dent, Batman eventually arrives and takes on the Joker. The Joker and Batman square off along with the Joker’s henchmen. Eventually the confrontation ends with Batman saving the life of Rachel Dawes. The next day, at a public service memorial for the late Commissioner, the Joker, disguised as a military official (The Joker and his henchmen stripped the actual Ceremonial arms of their uniforms, as well as tied them up, blindfolded and gagged them in his room prior to the funeral), shoots at the mayor of the city. But at the last moment Jim Gordon jumps in front of him getting shot in the chest, yet saving the mayor. Dent manages to capture and interrogate a thug working for the Joker. However, his interrogation is interrupted by Batman. Realizing what is happening, Wayne, disguised as Batman, states to Dent that he needs to reveal who he truly is in order to save Gotham and stop the killings. At a press conference the next day, held by Dent, Wayne is about to step forth but before he can do so, Dent publicly admits to being "the Batman" to draw the Joker out of hiding. Rachel is upset with Bruce not interfering and admitting that Harvey is not Batman and that he is. She leaves Alfred a note to give to Bruce ‘when the time is right’. Arrested and in route to re-location, Harvey’s transport is ambushed by the Joker and a semi-rig full of his henchmen and thugs. The Joker attempts to kill Dent during transport, and using a rocket launcher, hits the Batmobile causing it to burst into flames. Here, Batman takes on his ‘secondary’ transportation, the Batpod which bursts out of the side of the damaged Batmobile. Batman gets wounded during this second confrontation as the Joker approaches. Suddenly, Gordon, who faked his death, sneaks up behind him and arrests him.

Gordon is promoted to commissioner by Mayor Garcia. With the Joker in custody, everything seems to be safe. Unfortunately, a bit later, it is revealed that Harvey Dent never made it home. When questioned as to what he did to him, the Joker hints that Detective Wuerz was the one responsible for Dent's Predicament (which later turns out to be true.), then Commissioner Gordon leaves the Joker at Batman's hands. Batman then interrogates the Joker in a brutal fashion until he reveals that Rachel and Dent have been taken to opposite sides of the city, far-enough apart that Batman does not have time to save both of them. Batman speeds off to save Rachel, while Gordon and the police head after Dent. Unknown to them, the Joker has switched the locations, sending Batman after Dent and Gordon after Rachel. Realizing the situation, Rachel and Harvey, tied to chairs, are able to communicate through a phone. The two reassure each other that everything will be okay as Dent attempts to escape but fails and falls and his left side is immersed in oil. The Joker provokes a police-officer to take him on and manages to hold him as a hostage and walk out of the room and into the main lobby. Then, with the help of a pre-planted phone bomb, the Joker escapes with Lau in tow. Rachel tells Harvey that she will marry him just as Batman arrives at the location that was supposed to be Rachel’s location and rescues Dent. Then both buildings explode; the left side of Dent's face is burned during the explosion. Gordon does not reach Rachel in time; she dies in the explosion. Alfred reads the letter Rachel left which says that she is going to marry Harvey and can't wait anymore for Bruce. He was going to give it to Bruce but seeing him in grief he decides not to Bruce feels guilty for the death of Rachel and for what has happened to Dent stating he is "Gotham's true hero" and Alfred tells him that Gotham will have to make do with Batman, Bruce also stated that he knew Rachel would have waited for him to stop being Batman and they would have been together. In the hospital, Dent is driven to madness over the loss of Rachel, which he blames on Batman, Gordon and the Joker. When Gordon asks if he knew who took him captive he asks him why would he listen to him now and then demands what was the nickname the cops gave him which Gordon reveals to be Harvey "Two face" and Harvey then says "Why should I hide what I have become?". The Joker publicly states that he no longer cares about killing the Batman because he is ‘too much fun’ and that if the Wayne employee, Mr. Reese, who supposedly knows who Batman really is, is not killed to prevent the secret from slipping, then he will blow up a hospital. All hospitals begin immediate evacuation. At Gotham General, Harvey, unable to move due to bed restraints, is convinced by the Joker to exact revenge on the cops, mobsters, Gordon and Batman for killing his love. Harvey leaves and the Joker blows up the hospital.

While "Harvey Two-Face" confronts the corrupt cops and the mobsters one by one, flipping a coin to decide their fates(One side is burnt and the other is clear), the Joker burns Lau at the top of the clown's share of mob money. The Joker then declares that he will rule the streets and that anyone left in Gotham at nightfall will be subject to his rule. He states that if order is to be in Gotham Batman must die. Eventually the city attempts to leave, although, all road ways and bridges have been cut off. However, two ferries remain and each one becomes full. One carries criminals from Arkham and other prisons and the other, regular citizens. The Joker plants explosives on the two ferries of evacuees and gives the passengers on board the chance to destroy the opposing vessel, in order to save their own lives. Using the help of his ‘sonar-vision’ and Lucius Fox, Batman tracks the Joker to an uncompleted skyscraper. Batman takes down the henchmen, disguised as hostages, and takes down the SWAT team from killing the innocent citizens, forced to dress like henchmen. The Joker and Batman have one final confrontation. The Joker sends Rottweiler dogs at Batman, who manages to get rid of them. However, Batman is repeatedly hit by the Joker, who uses a steel pipe. The Joker manages to subdue Batman but eventually, is caught off guard when Batman projects the steel spikes at the Joker causing him to release his grip on Batman. Then being thrown over the edge of the building, yet saved by Batman’s grappling wire, the Joker hangs upside down as Batman prevents the Joker from blowing up the ferries when both vessels' occupants decide they would rather not sacrifice the lives of the passengers in the other vessel for their own. Elsewhere Dent forces an police officer into getting Gordons's Family out of their home and lead them to him, the officer tells Gordon about the situation but is interrupted by Dent. Dent then tells Gordon where he and his family is by telling him he is "Where my family died." . Gordon goes to the place where Rachel died Two face beats down Gordon and Dent is angry to see cops outside the building, Gordon tells him that they only know their is a situation and know nothing about what is happening Dent then decides to kill Gordon's son and stands at the edge of the building with the boy threatening to kill the him.

Remaining upside down, the Joker acknowledges that Batman really is incorruptible, but that Dent was not, and that he has unleashed Harvey's madness upon the city. Batman finds the two, along with Gordon's family, at the building where Rachel died. Two-Face proceeds to judge Batman, himself, and Gordon's son through the chance of a coin flip, which he sees as the only fairness left in the world. Two-Face shoots Batman in the stomach,he flips the coin again to decide his fate, but before he can determine the boy's fate, Batman tackles him over the side of the building, saving Gordon's son. As Dent lies motionless on the ground, Batman and Gordon decide that the Joker would win if anyone found out about Dent's corruption and madness. Batman convinces Gordon to let him take all the blame for Dent's murders in order to preserve Dent's image as Gotham’s ‘White Knight’ and to give the city hope. As Gordon destroys the Bat-Signal, a manhunt is issued for Batman. Alfred burns the note Rachel left knowing that Bruce will be heartbroken if he reads it and Lucius destroys the 'sonar vision' machine Batman used to capture Joker and Gotham has a funeral for the "White Knight". Gordon’s son does not understand the reasoning for why Batman must be hunted and has returned to the status of ‘illegal vigilante’ as his father states that he must be, because he can take it. He is the hero the city deserves, but not the one it needs right now. He is the watchful protector; the silent guardian; the Dark Knight.

The opening crawl reveals that the Galactic Empire has been working on the construction of a new armored space station which is to be even larger and more powerful than the first Death Star. Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, Princess Leia Organa, C-3PO, and R2-D2 return to Tatooine in an attempt to rescue Han Solo from the gangster Jabba the Hutt. Leia, disguised as a bounty hunter, attempts to secretly free Solo, who is still encased in carbonite. She succeeds, only to be discovered and captured by Jabba, who makes her his personal slave. Several days later Luke arrives to make one final plea to Jabba to release Solo. Luke is then captured by Jabba's guards and dropped into a dungeon to battle a rancor. After defeating the rancor he is sent along with Han Solo and Chewbacca to the Great Pit of Carkoon to be slowly consumed by the Sarlacc. With the help of R2-D2, Luke escapes and a large battle erupts; during the chaos, Leia strangles Jabba to death with her slave chains, and Han accidentally knocks Boba Fett, the bounty hunter who brought him to Jabba, into the pit where he is eaten alive by the Sarlacc. Following this, Luke blasts Jabba's sail barge with its own deck cannon, and all of the heroes manage to escape before it explodes.

Luke then returns to Dagobah to complete his Jedi training. However, upon arriving, he finds Yoda is languishing. Yoda tells Luke that no other training is required, but that he will not truly be a Jedi until he confronts Darth Vader who, Yoda confirms, is Luke's father. Yoda then dies, but not before telling Luke that "there is another Skywalker". The spirit form of Obi-Wan Kenobi then appears and confirms that Vader was once Anakin Skywalker, a former Jedi who was turned to the dark side of the Force. Though he initially seemed to imply that Vader was merely another Jedi who betrayed and murdered Anakin, Obi-Wan explains that Vader truly did this in the sense of the dark side consuming Anakin's mind, apparently destroying the good man who was Luke's father and replacing him as Vader. Luke asks Obi-Wan about the "other" Skywalker Yoda mentioned—Obi-Wan reveals that this "other" is his twin sister, hidden from Anakin and separated at birth to protect them both from the Emperor. Using his intuition, Luke quickly deduces that, to Obi-Wan's confirmation, his sister is Leia.

Meanwhile, the entire Rebel Alliance is meeting to devise an attack strategy. As part of the attack, Han is elected to lead a strike team to deactivate the shield generator on the forest moon of Endor which is projecting a protective shield up to the orbiting and incomplete Death Star. Luke, having returned from Dagobah, joins him and Leia for this mission; however, he soon fears that, after sensing Vader's presence within the nearby Imperial Fleet, his own presence may endanger the mission. On Endor, Luke and his companions encounter a tribe of Ewoks, primitive yet intelligent indigenous forest creatures of Endor. With the help of C-3PO, whom the Ewoks believe is a god, they are able to forge an alliance with the forest creatures. Later, Luke decides that the time has come for him to face Vader. He confesses to Leia the truth about her and Vader, and that he has to try to save the man who was once their father. He surrenders peacefully to Vader and unsuccessfully tries to convince his father to abandon the dark side. They go to the Death Star and meet the Emperor, who reveals that he knew of the attack before, and that the Rebel Alliance is walking into a trap. On the forest moon, the Rebels – led by Solo and Leia – enter the shield generator control facility only to be taken prisoner by waiting Imperial forces. Once they are led out of the bunker, however, the Ewoks spring a surprise counterattack. A desperate ground battle begins with the Rebels and Ewoks fighting the Imperial forces. The Rebels eventually gain the upper hand, due in large part to a stolen Imperial AT-ST Walker.

During the strike team's assault, the Rebel fleet, led by Lando, emerges from hyperspace for the battle over Endor, only to discover that the shield of the Death Star is still functioning. An intense space battle takes place as the Rebel fleet battles to give the surface party more time to complete their mission of deactivating the Death Star's shield. During the battle, the Death Star is revealed to be operational; its superlaser is fired at the Rebel fleet and obliterates two Rebel star cruisers. This forces a rethinking of strategy and the fleet closes with the Imperial star destroyers to prevent the superlaser from firing on the Rebel fleet.

On the Death Star, the Emperor tempts Luke to give in to his anger. A ferocious lightsaber duel erupts between Luke and his father. In the midst of combat, Vader reads Luke's feelings and learns that Luke has a twin sister. When Vader toys with the notion of turning Leia to the dark side, Luke gives in to his anger and brutally overpowers his father, eventually slicing off Vader's robotic right hand. However, despite the Emperor's goading, Luke refuses to kill his father, realizing that he is traveling down his father's path towards the dark side. He declares himself a Jedi, like his father before him. Upon realizing that Luke cannot be turned, the Emperor tortures and slowly kills him with Force lightning; in unspeakable pain, Luke begs his father for help. Facing a moral crisis as he sees his son dying before his own eyes, Vader finally repents in return of his former self, Anakin Skywalker, and turns on the Emperor, grabbing him over his shoulder and throwing him down a reactor shaft to his death. At the same time, however, the life support system in his suit is damaged beyond repair by the Emperor's lightning. Moments from death, he begs Luke to take off his breath mask to see him with his own eyes. Luke does so, and finally sees his father's true face: that of a pale, withered man ravaged by the dark side. He entreats Luke to leave him and save himself, and to tell Leia that there was some good left in him after all. With those last words, Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker dies, finally at peace.

Back on Endor, the strike team finally destroys the shield generator. The Rebel fleet seizes the opportunity to launch a final assault on the Death Star in space. Lando leads Wedge Antilles and his fighter group into the interior of the Death Star and they fire at the main reactor, causing its collapse. Luke escapes the Death Star with his father's body in an Imperial shuttle. Moments later, Wedge in his X-Wing and Lando in the Millennium Falcon emerge from the Death Star as well, just as it explodes. Back on Endor, Leia senses that Luke had escaped the station before it exploded. Han believes that she loves Luke and is prepared to let her go, but Leia reassures Han of her love for him and reveals (to his surprise and relief) that Luke is actually her brother. That evening, Luke cremates the remains of his father in his black armor on a funeral pyre on Endor.

The entire galaxy celebrates the fall of the Empire and the Rebellion's victory. On Endor, Luke, Leia, Han, Lando, and the rest of the Rebellion, along with the Ewoks, celebrate the victory as well. During the celebration, Luke catches sight of the spirit figures of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and the redeemed Anakin Skywalker, who watch over them with pride.

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