After seeing the movie and having time to absorb it, to let it stew, I’m ready to give my thoughts.
Nolan ended this trilogy perfectly. He had an ending he wanted, he told people the ending was perfect, so perfect that they never considered changing it. Batman comic purists were expecting the end of Batman, but comic purists know the broken back wasn’t the end—it was a detour which lasted a long time.
In the movie, Nolan rushed Batman back, for time’s sake. That’s fine by me. We got a realistic idea of what happened. What we got in the end, was a sequence of events that shook the entire trilogy to its foundation. One film removed from making himself the villain, and Batman is the hero. He becomes Gotham’s white knight. It’s funny that people expect Nolan’s entire involvement with Batman to come to an end… I see it just beginning to take the next step. Batman isn’t The Dark Knight anymore… he’s Gotham’s hero.
In the movie, to Gotham, Batman is dead. He blew up saving their lives. Bruce Wayne’s death unexplained to the people other than possibly being one of Bane’s victims. But Wayne simply relocates, and Alfred’s vision from earlier in the movie comes to fruition. I’m sure Christian Bale is done (for now) as the caped crusader. But, as we saw in the movie, there’s a hint at Robin (or hopefully Nightwing) becoming the next on-screen hero in Nolan’s direction.
Purists know that Batman also returns, in the form of Azrael, until Bane makes his return. Azrael eventually disposes of Gotham’s monsters in a way Batman never would… allowing them to fall to their death. When the good name of Batman is tarnished and Nightwing can’t do anything about it, Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham…
I have no proof that Nolan will follow through with this story. He did put twists onto Bane that were never touched in comics… but he left an opening for any route with Robin and Bruce Wayne he wants to take, and he did so with closing all of the doors needed to be closed as well, which is very difficult to do.
The one thing that stood out to me in the movie though, is the appearance of Scarecrow yet again… but not yet anywhere near his capability as one of the godfathers of Gotham crime. To me, it feels more like a suggestion that he’s on his way there, and a hint at him becoming a primetime villain in a future installment of Nolan’s project(s). If that’s the case, I expect the Wayne story to return and go above and beyond what we expect.
I said there’d be spoilers, and there were a few. I speculate and hope as a fan a lot. Take this piece for what it’s worth… comment, interact, let me know if I’m missing out on a direction, a detail.
By the way, the greatest part of the entire movie was the final fight scene on the steps when Bane beat up a pillar, bare fists… don’t even attempt to argue with me.