In a 2020 interview with Empire, “Rises” co-screenwriter David S. Goyer, a longtime superhero screenplay veteran, revealed that the end was where he started on that particular film. Prior to the inception of villains, action set pieces, or plots, the idea of Batman retiring into anonymity was appealing. “Rises” was then backward engineered entirely from that moment. Goyer knew this was to be the final Batman film Nolan would direct, so addressing the end of the character was vital. If Nolan’s first Batman film was called “Batman Begins,” it seemed appropriate that this one be “Batman Ends.” But he doesn’t end, he rises. He rises out of the darkness. He rises past the need to be Batman anymore.
Goyer talked about how he and Nolan met at a diner in Los Angeles to work out the details of the film’s end. Other details may have changed during production, but it seems the ending was constant throughout. As Goyer explained:
“The final scene of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is exactly that scene we talked about then. […] It remained completely unchanged. We both knew in our hearts that we were onto something special. I have to tell you, having finally seen everything strung together a little while ago and seeing that scene, I got a complete lump in my throat.”
The Empire article pointed out that ending a massively successful film franchise is anathema to modern Hollywood, an industry that encourages filmmakers to keep making movies in a single series as long as there are hands to milk it. The Dark Knight series seems to have been content to stop at three chapters. Was this shooting themselves in the foot, or was it a thrill? In Goyer’s words, the ending was what made the film unique, saying “That’s why it’s f***ing exciting!”