TDKR for me.
There's always been this clear distinction in my mind between BB and TDK.
BB was the more emotional and personal story. It was Bruce's story from the word go, and it had a lot of heart. It wasn't driven by an overly complex plot - it had a simple but powerful one. And it was a bit more fun... it wasn't afraid of being 'too Batman', or making some silly jokes.
TDK felt more like a story about society, represented thought this ensemble of characters, of which Bruce was just one. It had an intricate plot that made the audience think, it presented us with some powerful themes, and it had some great action sequences and acting performances... and it lost most of it's silliness. It seemed like it was shying away from being too 'comic booky'. It was the 'grown up' Batman movie.
With TDKR, I feel like the got they balance smack bang between the two.
Bruce's personal story was back in force. The emotion and heart was back. Some simpler story elements were back. Even some of the silliness was back.
And it felt like a Batman movie again. I felt like a big kid watching it, jumping up and down in my seat when The Bat flew out of that alleyway followed by the line 'are you sure it was him?' It's one of those moments where you just wanna jump up and down yelling 'Batman is sooooo coool!'
And THAT'S how a Batman film should make me feel.
Yet somehow, while bringing those things back from the first film (but even bigger and better), they managed to retain their use of intricate plots and powerful themes from the second. They managed to keep enough of the 'adult' stuff from TDK that it still makes the audience think, and still is a mirror of society in places.
It's just not 'ground in realism' as much as TDK. It has moments that are completely ridiculously over the top. That only work in the world of a superhero, where he always will be the one to defeat the impossible prison, or defeat the bad guy, or cheat death.
Which is exactly what a truly great superhero film should never try to avoid
Whenever I used to do fave movie lists, i'd always put BB/TDK together. Because I could never decide which I prefered... it was like choosing between one type of movie or another.
TDKR IS the two of them combined for me, and so it's very easy for me to put it above them both.