Originally Posted by jmc
The issue you bring up here is probably where a lot of the problems people like me have with the film - how its stand on its own. Films one and two are almost two completely different movie universes linked together by the underlying thread of getting Gotham City back on its feet. The beauty is film two doesn't rely on film one to tell its story, it could easily have been the launching point for a franchise as opposed to a follow up film. TDK works because it's its own thing entirely and is more of a compliment to Begins than a direct sequel. The downfall of Rises is that it relies too heavily on film one for its narrative, not only making it a weak stand alone movie, but creating this weird situation where it's more of a sequel to the first movie than what film two is. And the biggest issue is it doesn't even complete the task the Bruce sets out to do in getting Gotham back on its feet, if anything its worse off by the end of film three. TDK is now the odd child out in this whole story, it's not Bruce Wayne story it's Harvey Dent's, there are no links to the LoS or the events of film one, and it's the one that's treated far more realistic than the other two. It baffles me how instead of following that same path Nolan chose to unnecessarily drag back in elements that didn't need revisiting as the foundations for film three.
Respect your view, but I tend to disagree. Bruce leaves Gotham in the perfect state, because it's essentially destroyed. It's infrastructure, which for so long was dominated by organized crime, then further crippled by his own meddling, is decimated and totally obliterated. Gotham has no choice but to rebuild, and with the events of the past decade, not to mention a more reliable Commissioner & a "silent guardian" already in place, is in a much better spot to begin the healing process and restructuring the right way. From the ground up.
As far as relying on narrative, I think the notion that TDK has nothing to do with TDKR is a bit off base. The whole premise of where Bruce is personally is a direct result of the aftermath of TDK. Everything Wayne has to overcome in TDKR stems from everything he lost prior in TDK. The character elements, as far as Bane & Talia go, derive from BB, but the thematic & more importantly, personal struggle of Bruce Wayne is all from TDK.