Originally Posted by Happy Jack
That's what I love about the eight years without Batman between films and the state that Gotham is in at the beginning of Rises. It's almost asking what would happen if Bruce got what he wanted in Knight, which was Harvey Dent as the symbol of hope for the city and a life for himself without Batman. Granted, he gets it in about the worst way he could have but the answer given is clear. Bruce's life falls apart because without Batman he has no meaning. Rises is really about a guy finding the will to live again. It takes the whole movie for him to let go of his pain and the mistakes he's made so he can live his life in full (without the masks) and leave the city to the generation.
This is why I think the 8 year gap is brilliant. It harkens back to the spirit of the character from the comics yet it's a really bold and interesting way to conclude Bruce's arc.