Originally Posted by The Joker
Quote me the lines that said Bruce was finished as Batman at the end of TDK. Because until Nolan confirmed TDKR was set 8 years after TDK, nobody was thinking Batman had thrown in the towel at the end of TDK. TDK's ending gave the impression that Batman can endure being hunted and hated by Gotham because he can be what ever they need him to be. Just like what Alfred said to him when he was going to quit over Joker killing people in his name. He said "People are dying, Alfred. What would you have me do?", to which Alfred responds "Endure, Master Wayne. Take it. They'll hate you for it. But that's the point of Batman. He can be the outcast".
How can Batman be enduring anything if he's not Batman any more? No endurance required if you've quit.
To me, this is all easily explained by the fact that Batman is more than just a man, but a symbol. Symbols can do things people can't. They can hold meaning even in the absence of the people who created them- a key point in the whole trilogy. That's what I take from it when Batman says, "I can do those things...unlike Dent."
It's the moment he realizes that his symbol has walked that fine line between light and darkness and he can nudge it all the way to the dark side for a greater purpose. That he's "not a hero".
The way I read the movie, that has always been why he can "take it". Because as Batman he's more than just a man. He can be whatever Gotham truly needs. And that includes decisions not
to act. Like not turning himself in even when things are looking bad. Again, not being the hero.
I'm not saying TDK's ending implies he's going to retire, but I do think there was a touch of ambiguity there. Between the 2008 and 2012 I had a longstanding debate going with my friend, who was 100% convinced Bruce was going to be retired and in isolation at the start of the next film. I'm the bigger fan between us, so I was pretty adamant that Bruce was still going to be knee deep in doing Batman stuff at the start of the next film. Eventually I had to concede that the ending had a touch ambiguity to it that allowed for different readings.
So yeah, I ultimately ended up losing that argument lol. But it's okay because I won the one we had about whether or not Dent would show up in the movie