Originally Posted by Shikamaru
I don't think it fits Nolan's version of Batman either. I think it is very out of character for all 3 versions of Batman (comics Batman, B:TAS Batman, and Nolan's Batman). As I said before, if you analyze BB and TDK, pretty much everything in those movies point to Bruce continuing to be Batman and it's not like you have to look too deep into them (at least not for me). They're all right there. This is something we discussed multiple times already and you already know my reasons for believing this so I won't repeat myself again. Based on BB and TDK, Bruce just quitting like that is the exact opposite of what I would expect Nolan's Batman to do as well.
I wrote this several months back. This is recap of all the things that point to this in BB and TDK:
As for him quitting in TDK, I argued before that Bruce's character arc in that movie is coming to the realization that he needs to be Batman forever and that he can't ever truly be happy. Yes, he did want to quit originally. That was his original plan. To be Batman for a little while until he cleans up Gotham and then hook up with Rachel and live a happy life. However, 2 things happened:
1) His entire reason for wanting to quit being Batman in the first place was Rachel. He wanted to live a happy life with Rachel. Now that reason was gone because of Joker killing her. If anything, Rachel was just an obstacle for him all along. She was holding him back. Her death pushed him further towards embracing his Batman persona, as shown by how much more calculative and obsessed he became after her death and until the end of the movie (the cellphone sonar machine he used to violate everyone's privacy is there to show that).
2) The man Bruce thought would be the one to replace him - Harvey - turned out to not be the man he was. Throughout the film, Joker tries to corrupt both Harvey and Batman. He succeeds in corrupting Harvey but fails corrupting Bruce and even tells him at the end that he is "truly incorruptible". This goes back to Batman Begins. "A man has limits and can be corrupted, but if you make yourself more than just a man, you become something else entirely - a legend." When Batman witnesses how easily Harvey was corrupted and realizes that there is a "higher class of criminal" that only HE can handle because he is "more than just a man" as opposed to just a man, that is when he comes to the realization that there is no replacement for the Batman. Not Harvey nor anyone else. No matter how good your intentions are, at the end of the day you are just a man and you can easily be corrupted (that's why it also surprises me that this is the same Batman who passed the mantle to Blake - Blake is not "more than just a man" (at least not yet) so how does he know someone like the Joker won't come along and corrupt him just like Harvey was?). With that realization came the realization that there is no escape from the Batman - it is who he is. This is all just my view, of course.
I remember when TDK came out, some people (not a lot but some) were saying how out of character Batman was in the movie because he was planning on quitting. Heck, even some of the people that love TDKR use that as an argument against those that complain about him quitting in the movie ("He wanted to quit in TDK too so why do you love that movie?") The analogy I use against those arguments was always this: Complaining about Batman wanting to quit in TDK would be the same thing as complaining that a book like To Kill A Mockingbird is racist because it uses the N word over and over again despite the whole message of the book being that racism is wrong.
And finally, as I said before to BatLobsterRises, the main thing that bothers me with Bruce quitting in TDKR has a lot more to do with the execution than the concept. I'm not a fan of the concept either but the execution is far far worse IMO.
-The first two movies being heavily based on stories that take place in Batman's early years like Year One and The Long Halloween, even dealing with the same themes.
-Bruce gravely underestimating the threat to Gotham in Begins. It wasn't Falcone that was the the major threat, it was the LOS.
-Bruce not expecting to cause bad inspiration to Gotham via the copycats and the Joker.
-The whole theme about escalation and the "freaks" and how more and more have started appearing in Gotham due since Batman's arrival.
-Rachel leaving Bruce because she felt he was always going to need Batman.
-Rachel, the main reason Bruce wanted to quit being Batman in the first place so that he could be with her and have a normal life, is killed off essentially removing something that held him back.
-The Joker saying he and Batman were destined to do battle forever.
-Alfred saying Bruce can endure as Batman because he can take it.
-Gordon said they were going to hunt Batman because he can take it.
-Bruce seeing the man who he thought would be the perfect replacement for Batman be corrupted and brought down to the Joker's level.
-Nolan saying in an interview from 2008 that he doesn't want to bring in Robin into the franchise because his version of Batman was still in his early career as Batman thus Robin was still a little kid, which means he wouldn't appear for a "few films".
-Nolan saying in some book or interview before TDKR that Bruce's original plan was to be Batman for just a temporary time (couple of years or so) only to learn at some point that "things wouldn't be so easy".
These are all just off the top of my head.
You're viewing the idea that since The Dark Knight is inspired by The Long Halloween, that it should've created this "rise of freaks" when there's only one freak that ends up being captured and the other is hidden away from society and given a lie that this other freak died a hero. That, to me, does not scream like a "rise of freaks" would commence as Joker's try of creating someone like him didn't turn out so good and Gordon and Batman ended up getting their way with keeping Dent as this "white knight". And heck, look at the idea that The Long Halloween is a sequel to Year One, and The Dark Knight Returns, which is the main basis for The Dark Knight Rises, is a sequel to Year One in many ways as they are both in Miller's Batman universe.
And the line from Joker can be looked past when it's Batman's line that ends the debate before Joker's claim of Dent's true self being looked at that will change the landscape of Gotham. "You'll be in a padded cell forever." While I understand how some will view Joker's line as being something of more importance, we can take the dialogue for just what it his and Joker and Batman just not keeping in in their pants and having a dialogue of wits.
Now while there were those Batman copycats in the beginning of TDK, it still didn't stop Bruce Wayne into trying to find someone else to take up the reigns as Gotham City's protector. Harvey Dent was turned by the Joker, but Bruce ends up finding someone else, and this time someone who would now actually embrace the cape and cowl as Dent sure wouldn't.
Alfred and Gordon saying Batman can take it has nothing to do with Bruce Wayne staying as Batman forever. In fact, Batman did take it as he became the criminal. He didn't have to waste the GCPD's time and have them chase him like clock work, but Batman became the villain instead of people admiring him; Batman did take it.
And Alfred also told Bruce to know his limits, and there is a time when Bruce could no longer be Batman and finally be happy. The girl wasn't Rachel, but it was going to be someone and for the longest, Bruce didn't care about finding that other woman that would make him happy. He finally did with Selina Kyle.
It isn't in Batman's early years when Robin does show up, and it's also a new take on Robin, so it still fits with Nolan talking about how Robin won't show up early in the game. And Batman also went through something that wasn't easy, as you mentioned Nolan said as well. He went through that rough patch for not being able to be the Batman that Bruce wanted to be.
It's totally fine if you didn't like the ending, totally fine, but certain complaints that could be viewed as retconning BB and TDK...they can be answered and explained where it isn't a form of retcon at all.