Originally Posted by Excelsior.
The Dark Knight certainly painted the actions of Bruce as having severe consequences, and at the end it was the citizens of Gotham, good and bad, that stood up to the Joker's game, not Batman himself, but those same citizens are painted as being utterly useless in Dark Knight Rises, merely cowering at whatever Bane threw at them, not standing up for them. Which is where Blake and his arc came in and the idea that Gotham always needs a hero who operates extra martially.
To be fair, the ferry passengers didn't "stand up" to Joker's game as much as they simply showed that they aren't monsters. They didn't necessarily prove themselves to be assertive and heroic, only that they aren't ready to commit mass murder. One is quite different from the other.
I don't think the actions of the citizens in TDK and TDKR are unrealistic, or retarded. I'm pretty sure we would have all acted in the same way. The cops understood that they were there to sacrifice themselves as distraction so the citizens could flee.
And I don't think what Blake or Gordon did to thwart Bane's plan to be "extra-martial." They simply didn't have the resources Bruce did to stop him.