Originally Posted by Doc Samson
In contrast, while nothing in TDKR I found particularly shocking, on subsequent viewings, I appreciate it more for the execution and thematic elements that tie the trilogy together.
Agreed. TDKR is a movie where you can revel in how it emotionally and thematically fulfills the journey that began with the first two films.
And I do think most of the major beats were considered and brought up, if not outright figured out for both TDK and Rises. Probably not the ending for TDK, but for Rises everyone had guesses but there was no consensus. I think we knew it pretty much came down to:
Batman dies/Bruce lives (fakes Batman's death)
Bruce really dies/Batman lives on (possibly via Blake)
Bruce lives/Batman lives on (the "rooftop" ending)
and of course the less popular "Gotham gets nuked" ending
It was a huge debate. But I don't think too many had guessed an ending where Bruce fakes the death of both Wayne and Batman while passing the mantle to Blake. Or him turning Wayne Manor into an orphanage in his parents' name, the very last scene we see of him, etc. It was the manner that it all unfolded in that I found hugely cathartic. I will say, I was worried that a "he died...but wait he didn't!" moment could be cliche and predictable, but the way those final minutes unfold is just beautiful. That shot in the cafe was just a euphoric moment, and such a huge relief. I'll never forget the feeling I had when I saw Bruce's smiling face on the IMAX. It is without a doubt the most straight up happy ending to a Nolan film to date, and it was a damn hard-earned one.
The only thing I can say I personally called for the ending was a Bat-monument. All my other theories were just dancing around what the real ending was. Close, but not quite on the mark.