I've been thinking and reading listening to other reviews over that past few weeks to find out what people thought about the movie and to clarify my own feelings, and I've come to a new(ish) conclusion.
To me, the biggest flaw in this third Batman film is that TDKR is not actually a Batman movie. Sure there is a character named Batman/Bruce Wayne in the movie. He (Nolan) got the names, place, and a few of the plot points right. The movie itself wasn't bad. But the man we actually observe in TDKR is not Batman.
And before someone says, “But this is Nolan’s interpretation of Batman, obviously he is going to be different,” please know that I understand that. I read other people’s interpretations of who Batman is all the time in everything from comics to fanfiction, and I enjoy many of them. I am not saying that Nolan’s Batman has to exactly match my head canon to be Batman.
However Batman’s values, personality, even his skills are largely absent from this trilogy and those are the things that separate Batman from another character and keep Batman Batman even when being reinterpreted. If one is going to change one of those baseline characteristics of Batman there should be a logical reason in the story itself for why Batman is so changed. That’s what separates reinterpretation from simply being out of character (OOC).
1. In most of the time period covered by the movie Bruce Wayne isn't even fighting crime.
2. Most of his bat “toys” are made by engineers in Wayne Enterprises and pained black, instead of being designed and manufactured mostly by him.
3. In all three movies Batman shows a distinct lack of detective abilities:
a) He didn’t figure out who Bane was
b) He couldn’t even figure out how The Child had gotten out of the pit when others hadn’t
c) He didn’t figure out who Miranda Tate was
4. And it’s not so much that he didn’t figure it out as it was that he wasn’t even suspicious! He wasn’t even looking into it! Batman is suspicious of EVERYTHING! In the movie, he’s not even suspicious of Selina Kyle! This is a basic personality trait of Batman! And, again, there is no reason given in the plot for these things to be different.
5. Like I pointed out in the first part of my review, Batman seems to have a distinct lack of are for the people of Gotham, This is shown by:
a) his retirement in which he takes and 8 year break from crime-fighting something Batman wouldn’t do especially not so young even with the death of a loved one. Batman has had many loved ones die including a son. Maybe there’s some story I’ve missed but never once has his reaction been to take an almost decade long hiatus! He almost always does the opposite, sinking into the cowl and living only for fighting crime. And there is NOTHING in any of the movies that says why Bruce’s response this time should be so different.
b) His not making sure certain charities stayed funded,
c) And the way the movie itself never address the difference between Bane’s professed ideology and a true revolution of the people, which Batman certainly would have pointed out in any other medium.
d) He constantly talks about not letting his city fall in the pit, but didn’t care to leave the house and help his city for eight years. The only reason the Batman—Bruce Wayne— gets away with that in other stories without totally sound like some feudal lord is that he is among the people night after night and uses his business to aid the people of Gotham on a regular basis. NONE OF THIS HAPPENS IN THE MOVIE. So what is Bruce Wayne in TDKR, but some privileged white savior who only half-assedly tries to stop crime by supporting action that criminalizes the poor but leaves the wealthy to do whatever they please? Which is basically the question of the entire movie or at least the question posed by Bane and Selina Kyle. But that question is never really answered.