Notorious dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Depp) has been languishing in a cell in an American prison for months, but while in the process of being moved to Europe to answer for his crimes, he makes good on his promise to escape. As Grindelwald starts assembling a group of followers to overthrow the existing magical order, his former friend Albus Dumbledore (Law) begins moving against him. Unable to overtly confront Grindelwald for mysterious reasons, Dumbledore enlists the help of a former student who previously faced down the dark wizard: Newt Scamander (Redmayne).
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True to his promise, the dark wizard Grindelwald escapes from custody while being transferred to Europe to answer for his crimes, and begins assembling followers who share his ambitions, but he's opposed by a young wizard with a love of magical beasts.