First of all, there are going to be some **MASSIVE SPOILERS** relating to The Dark Knight Rises coming up, so if you haven’t seen it I recommend that you go away and do that before reading on. Which you definitely should anyway, since it’s very good.
Something that has struck a lot of people following the film’s ending, and which was brought to my attention by an article in Forbes, is that Joseph Gordon-Levitt will not logically become Robin, Batman’s canonical sidekick, but will in fact rise again as the Dark Knight himself. He is given access to the Bat Cave, the suit and the gadgets. Commissioner Gordon even has a fresh Bat light thing to shine when he is needed.
This, it is argued, is an acknowledgement of the fact that Bruce Wayne has finally moved on, passing the mantle to a younger man who will be able to stand up for what’s right in Gotham and keep the symbol that is Batman alive and well. Wayne himself mentions several times during Christopher Nolan’s trilogy that Batman is a symbol rather than an entity which is specific to him.
That’s all well and good, until you think about it for a second. Because Batman was not forged from the collective will of the people of Gotham. He came about as a result of a billionaire orphan dicking about on his gap year and ending up back home with some ninja training and a chip on his shoulder.
Without a very specific series of events occurring to one very rich man who had the time and means to fulfil his convictions of vigilantism, Batman would not have been born. And Gordon-Levitt’s character lacks the training and physicality of Bruce Wayne, even if he has been endowed with a fraction of his resources.
While there are many portions of the dialogue which show two characters going on about the ideals that are represented by figures like Batman, Harvey Dent, The Joker and other prominent members of Gotham society during the movies, they are contradicted by the fact that the plot shows the people being persuaded to follow a path of self-determination by the actions of one very rich man.
This is also a rich man who does not like others procuring the symbol of Batman and following in his footsteps independently. This is outlined during an early scene in The Dark Knight during which Batman confronts gun-toting citizens dressed as him and criticises them for being unable to afford costumes that consist of anything other than sporting equipment. Batman is a man, not a transferable symbol. Which is the opposite sentiment to that expressed at the end of Three Amigos when the whole village turns against El Guapo by dressing as the heroes. And on that reference, I’ll bow out.