Snow White (Kristen Stewart) is the princess of Tabor, daughter of King Magnus (Noah Huntley) and Queen Eleanor (Liberty Ross). After his wife’s death, King Magnus falls in love with the beautiful Ravenna (Charlize Theron) after rescuing her from the Dark Army, a fleet of invincible glass soldiers who have enslaved several of the neighboring kingdoms. The two are married but Ravenna – who is in fact a powerful sorceress and the Dark Army’s master – kills Magnus on their wedding night after claiming that men like the King exploit the beauty of women and discard them. As Ravenna seizes control of the kingdom, Magnus’ most trusted knight, Duke Hammond (Vincent Regan), attempts to help Snow White escape the Castle, but fails, and she is captured by Ravenna’s brother and enforcer Finn (Sam Spruell). Snow White is then locked away in a small cell in the Northern Tower.
Over the next several years, Ravenna uses the Magic Mirror (Christopher Obi Ogugua) to capture all the women whose beauty might surpass her own and drain their youth, in order to maintain a spell once cast by her mother, which allows her to use her beauty as a weapon as long as she is “the fairest of them all”. Tabor meanwhile is left in ruins under her rule and Ravenna’s abuse of magic results in her stolen beauty fading.
Fifteen years later, Ravenna learns from the Mirror that a now-grown up Snow White is destined to surpass her and that she must consume the young girl’s heart in order to become immortal. She orders Finn to bring her Snow White but she escapes and is chased into the Dark Forest, where the Ravenna’s forces ultimately lose her trail. Powerless in the Dark Forest, Ravenna locates Eric, the Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth), a drunken widower who survived a hunting expedition to the Dark Forest sometime before, and orders him to lead Finn and his men in pursuit of Snow White. In exchange she promises to revive his deceased wife Sarah, but warns him that he will be executed should he refuse. Duke Hammond learns that Snow White is alive and has fled into the Dark Forest from one of his spies infiltrated in Tabor, and his son William (Sam Claflin), Snow White’s childhood friend, disguises himself in order to infiltrate Finn’s band as an archer and find her.