Fans are divided on whether Bane and Talia are in a platonic or romantic relationship. It's also unclear how much their motivation relates to the League of Shadow's dogma vs. how much of it is simple revenge.
There's also the question of who's the real Big Bad. Talia/Miranda and Bane both have personal reasons for wanting to destroy Gotham and torture Bruce Wayne, and the nature of their relationship is left ambiguous enough to make them a true Big Bad Duumvirate. Talia never asserts that Bane is a mere henchman to her; Bane is The Heavy and was definitely claiming to be a leader of the League of Shadows earlier in the film, and he has enough initiative to ignore one of Talia's orders. He has enough authority to get other members to die in his place, and is even shown finding and using Gordon's speech in the plan to open Blackgate, which Miranda/Talia could not have known about beforehand. The novelization based on the script even reveals that he considers himself to be the true heir to Ra's al Ghul, and wishes to destroy Batman more to prove himself as the worthier student than out of any true loyalty to Talia.
Bane in general is a fairly complex character. Depending on how you view him, he could be seen as the trilogy's biggest Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds or a loathsome bastard.
On the one hand, The Reveal shows that he too was born in the World's harshest prison, and was compassionate enough to care for the child and aid her escape at great personal cost. Talia implies that his excommunication was influenced by Ra's distrust, and the film implies his Start of Darkness came from the torture he suffered for helping Talia.
On the other hand, he consistently kills his henchmen or has them die in his place, sadistically torments Batman almost solely to prove he is worthier than him, leaves everyone who incurs his wrath to rot in the same Pit he was in (including the doctor who helped him overcome his injuries, though the doctor was indirectly responsible for them to begin with as he's the one who left Talia's cell door unlocked), came up with the idea to isolate all of Gotham and torture it with false hope based on his own experiences, (Talia was established as escaping the Pit, and only wants to destroy Gotham to avenge her father, not torture it), and then finally gives the trigger to Talia and puts her in the blast radius to ensure his plans to rule and destroy Gotham go as planned (then again, it was her wish).
And as usual, Batman/Bruce Wayne himself - noble crusader or emotionally stunted, self-destructive Man Child who must finally grow up?
Anticlimax Boss: When Talia reveals herself in the final act, Bane is seemingly killed off by Catwoman in a way that some find anticlimactic.
Broken Base: Can just as easily be Fan Dumb, but a lot of fans absolutely HATE the film's ending in which Bruce Wayne finally retires from being Batman, passes the torch to John Blake and chooses to live happily ever after in Europe - specifically Italy - with Selina Catwoman Kyle, Earth 2 style, claiming "The Real Batman Would Never Do That!", "The Real Batman Could Never Do That!", "The Real Bruce Wayne Can Never Stop Being Batman!" and so on and so forth, to the point that some even say "The Real Batman Would Die Before He Stopped Being Batman!" and keep insisting that a better ending would be Bruce being dead for real, even though that completely defeats the whole point of the film, that Bruce had to find the will to live and move on with his life. Having him learn that just to die anyway would be counterproductive to say the least.
Also, a lot of fans just absolutely HATE the fact that there is no reference made at all to the Joker, the antagonist of the previous film. Nolan and co said this was done out of respect to the late Heath Ledger, but most fans and even some casual members of the general audience came away feeling that it was actually completely disrespectful to Ledger after he gave such a dynamic and mesmerizing performance (others are just angry Joker fans feeling sour grapes that he couldn't be in the film for obvious reasons). Others simply found it strange not to have any reference made at all to a character who was such an integral part of the previous film, both from a narrative standpoint and from a box office standpoint.
Continuity Lockout: One of the biggest criticisms of the film is that its story is tied too heavily with previous installments, one of them being made seven years prior and consequently out of most viewers' memories. In contrast, its predecessor can still be enjoyed as a stand-alone film. Of course considering that this is meant as the epic conclusion of a whole trilogy of movies, it's kind of understandable for it to be continuity heavy.
Counterpart Comparison: The doctor in the prison who watches over Bruce and fixes his back could be seen as a counterpart for Alfred, complete with the British accent and croaking voice, but without any of the compassion.
Ensemble Dark Horse: Jonathan Crane makes a cameo, much to the joy of his ever growing fanbase and delivering another One-Scene Wonder performance. This makes him the only Batman villain to appear in all three movies.
Selina Kyle, both for being a badass through and through, and for being both genuinely sympathetic but still morally ambiguous enough to perfectly grab what makes the character popular. Along with John Blake, she's the one who executives are looking to make a spin-off out of. Hopefully they get that one right this time around.
In Bruce's case it can be justified. By the film's start, Bruce has lost his will to live and does not care about him dying. At the same time he recover his fear to death Bruce manages to care for his life once again.
Despite multiple people calling Bruce out on his paranoia and how it is probably unjustified, the film more or less justifies his paranoia at every single turn. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the fusion reactor, which Bruce mothballs in a knee-jerk reaction to a single paper on weaponizing it, only for the reactor to be used exactly for that purpose. In short, rather than circulate the technology for clean energy and change the entire world for the better, Bruce sits on it because he's paranoid about the danger to Gotham.
Fan Dumb: Prior to the film's release, critics who gave it unfavorable reviews were subjected to a massive Internet Backdraft. Some critics were even threatened with violence or cyber-attacks on their web sites. In response to the backlash against negative reviews of the film, Rotten Tomatoes decided to disable user commentary for The Dark Knight Rises.
Harsher in Hindsight: A crazed gunman killed a dozen people at a midnight screening of the movie. The notoriety of this incident, and the killer's passing resemblance to the previous movie'svillain, can make the film much harder to enjoy after the fact. Also, the Gangster Squad trailer that aired just before the attack featured a shooting in a movie theater. Warner Brothers has since pulled the trailer and will re-write and shoot the final act of the film (in which the theater shooting would've taken place), though some people's screenings still showed the trailer.
Heartwarming In Hindsight: Batman telling Gordon that anyone can be a hero, even someone doing something as simple as putting a coat around a boy's arms and assuring him that it's not the end of the world, became even more heartwarming after the tragic Colorado shootings, where Christian Bale himself went to visit the victims unannounced, on his own money and time.
What a good deal of people believe about Talia, as her death scene was rather unclear if she died from her injuries or just passed out, and people have survived much worse in these films before (the Joker, for instance, lives through his truck getting flipped over.)
Some people also wonder if Bane really died or if he was just so damn powerful that he could live through Selina's missile attack.
More than one person has noted the similarity between the climax of this film and Batman's troubles with disposing of a bomb in Batman: The Movie. He even appears to get blown up (for a few seconds, anyway) in the latter.
Bane's previous, much-criticised, appearance in a Batman film was in Batman & Robin. One reason fans complained was because he was not a villain in his own right as in the comics, but was reduced to just been the mook of a female villain. At the end of this film, we find out he was working with another female villain, though the film does not establish who is working for whom, or if they are a Big Bad Duumvirate.
On a similar note, there's Selina Kyle. Like Bane, Catwoman's previous film appearance was widely hated, in part because the lead, despite using the name "Catwoman", had little to do with the original character. Now, as noted under Ensemble Darkhorse above, Selina's character is widely praised for capturing the character's essence perfectly... but she never uses the name "Catwoman".
In the beginning of the movie, Selina manages to steal Bruce's car by claiming she's his wife. Ultimately, she's the one Bruce ends up with.
Remember the constant chanting of "Deshi deshi basara basara!" toward the end of the IMAX prologue? The Bilingual Bonus takes on a whole new and more appropriate meaning when you find out what the phrase really meansSpoiler alert Coming soon.
Throw in the earlier He Panned It, Now He Sucks shenanigans into the mix, and then you had people critiquing even harder on the film out of spite.
I Knew It: Miranda Tate is Talia. Any Batman fan who read the comics or saw the cartoon or in general knew of the basic relationship between Ra's and Talia were able to figure things out long before the film's release. One might have also picked it up from the casting of Joey King, who was confirmed to be playing Talia, and looks just like a younger Marion Cottilard. Nolan went out of his way to lie about it, but the rumors didn't completely die down upon the movie's release.
Iron Woobie: Bruce Wayne. This man just can't catch a break.
It Was His Sled: Bane breaks Batman's backnote More accurately, he dislocates a lumbar vertebrae. It's been an iconic part of the character's notoriety for decades.
Jerkass Woobie: Bane and Talia. When you learn the full story, it's really quite tragic. Doesn't stop them from doing unjustifiably evil things, however.
Les Yay: Selina and her roommate and fellow thief, Jen, an expy of Holly Robinson.
When you learn the whole story on Bane, it's actually somewhat sympathetic. But planning to torture 12 million people with the false hope of survival for months and then kill them kinda scratches it.
Same deal for Miranda Tate AKA Talia al Ghul, the other Big Bad. Even worse, she plans to destroy Gotham using the very means her father disapproved of—nuclear holocaust, if you believe the novelization of Batman Begins.
Daggett crosses it with his scheme to send Bruce Wayne, in the words of a newspaper article, "from billionaire to bum" by working with Bane to commit stock exchange fraud. He had no other reason to do it than corporate greed; he explicitly wants to be the leader of a combined Wayne-Daggett company, and he's thoroughly frustrated when Talia fills the vacancy left by Bruce instead of him.
Talia al Ghul's death, due to her rather Evil Gloating and expressions.
Christian Bale's Batman voice, specifically when asking Bane where the trigger to the bomb is.
If you happen to know Moroccan Arabic, the Bane chant is this. Not only did they get the wrong words ("deshi basara" does not mean "to rise", as it's often claimed, but "coming soon"), it's mispronounced.
Most of John Daggett's screentime due to the over-hamminess of his performance. Probably intentional to show how much of an incompetent buffoon he is compared to Bane.
The attempts of Bruce and the earlier prisoner to jump the gap leading out of the prison, and failing, coupled with the mention that only one person has ever escaped, is hard to take seriously when the gap isn't that big, and the pitiful leaps the two take to get across.
Narm Charm: Even with all the jokes made about his voice, Bane still manages to be terrifyingly intimidating much of the time.
Nightmare Fuel: Plenty of it, but Bruce's hallucination of Ra's Al Guhl in the pit is the most obvious as the image of Ra's taunts him over his failure to properly save Gotham from itself, as evidenced by the fact that despite his best efforts the only victory he could achieve "was a lie."
One-Scene Wonder: Jonathan Crane is a two-scene wonder and one of the most memorable parts of the film.
Poison Oak Epileptic Trees/True Art Is Angsty: There is a vocal group of fans insisting that Alfred was imagining/hallucinating that he saw Bruce and Selina in the cafe at the end and that Bruce really did die when the bomb went off - even though Nolan says otherwise.
All of Miss Tate's actions and dialogue up until The Reveal are seen in a much more sinister light. Talia's engineered the destruction of Gotham through years of deception. All under the pretense of being a trustworthy altruist. Her speech to Daggett about his misplaced faith in the power his money allegedly grants him is later echoed by Bane. And she was willing to seduce Bruce just to make her betrayal all the more painful.
When Bruce casually brings up how it's a shame the auto-pilot isn't working. He couldn't look more suspicious, it's a good thing Lucius had his back turned.
Romantic Plot Tumor: Bruce falls in love twice during the film, and it's debatable whether either time was all that convincing.
To be fair, it is never outright stated nor directly implied Bruce falls in love. With Miranda, he coming off an eight year self-imposed exile while mourning the death of Rachel. Both seem more spur of the moment that is rather justifiable to Bruce's character. What comes of him and Selina after the film is anyone's guess.
And let's face it, he had way more chemistry with both Selina and Talia than he ever really had with Rachel Dawes, who was more of a twisted example of Loving a Shadow than anything else.
Strawman Has a Point: Much of Bane's faux-populist rhetoric is appealing, particularly given that the film depicts several members of the rich and powerful as corrupt jerks. On the other side of the coin, it also depicts some of them as being as human as everyone else, and a rich guy who is altruistic is the main character of the series.
Of course, as a member of the League of Shadows, he is probably not actually serious and is just saying this stuff to cause chaos and show the world what happens when law and order isn't backed up by murderous brutality. He isn't truly a populist anarchist or anything like that; he just wants people to think he is.
Matthew Modine's character Foley. For instance, urging caution instead of jumping into a hole that everyone knows is booby trapped is a particular example - whenever he calls Blake "a hothead" it is usually because Blake is being a hothead. Similarly, diverting the chase from the Stock Exchange thieve to Batman is a fairly justifiable decision - Batman, to his knowledge, was wanted for the murder of several police officers and a District Attorney, and threatening children with lethal violence and the attempted murder of the Police Commissioner. From what he knows, not the audience, he makes pretty defensible calls both times. His cowardice after the Fall of Gotham is less appealing.
Squick: An imprisoned doctor "treats" Bruce's dislocated back by tying him to a rope hanging from the ceiling and stretching it, Bruce screaming the whole time. OUCH.
Honest Trailers Narrator: Get ready... for a nearly 3 hour Batman movie, where Batman only shows up for about 33 minutes.
Also, Talia is widely considered to be this.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Some watchers were more interested in how the rest of the country/world was taking an entire large metropolitan area being completely cut off from everything. Despite Bruce being outside of Gotham during it, it isn't really explored much.
There's also Nolan's last film, which in of itself would be a tough act to follow up on as well.
True Art Is Angsty: Even moreso than The Dark Knight, the film carries a very melancholy, downtrodden tone.
Roger Ebert: It isn't very much fun...I'm thinking of the over-the-top action sequences of the earlier films that had a subcurrent of humor, and the exhilarating performance of Heath Ledger as the Joker. This movie is all serious drama...a dark and heavy film; it tests the weight a superhero movie can bear. That Nolan is able to combine civil anarchy, mass destruction and a Batcycle with exercise-ball tires is remarkable.
Sending the entire Gotham City Police Force into the tunnels to try to smoke out Bane? Bad idea because it leads to the entire team being trapped and zero cops left to defend Gotham City against criminals.
The valet who somehow believed that Selina Kyle was Bruce Wayne's wife without even questioning it. You'd think he'd realize that if someone as prominent as Bruce Wayne actually married, it would be kinda well-known.
Then again, Bruce is just out of a multi-year period of living in total seclusion. Its not that impossible that there have been changes in his personal life that haven't made it to the public consciousness yet, especially if you don't keep up with celebrity gossip.
Rush Limbaugh thought that Bane was a reference to Bain Capital, the company Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney formerly ran (Bane first appeared in 1993, when Bain was much smaller, and before Romney came to prominence. When Bane was announced as the villain, Mitt Romney was relatively obscure and Bain was mostly unknown to the American consciousness). It got bad enough that not only did Nolan attempt to deny it, Bane's original creator (himself a political conservative) even denied it was the case, and had to point out that Bane's character was closer in depiction to an Occupy Wall Streeter.
Which leads to the flip-side idea that some politically-minded people on the Left seem to have that the movie portrays the Occupy Wall Street are a bunch of violent lunatics trying to tear down Western civilization, or that the film is "Batman vs. the evil poor people". The trailers are more guilty of these Unfortunate Implications than the actual movie though, since most of the violence is committed either by Bane's mercenaries (sometimes posing as menial workers) or the convicted criminals busted out of prison, not by any poor or ordinary people (who are seen mostly shutting themselves in their homes while this insanity is going on, and thankful to finally be able to come out once it's over with.) And there are one or two Corrupt Corporate Executives thrown in for good measure. Though there is a brief mention of Bane recruiting the disenfranchised and the poor, it's difficult to identify specific examples from his army of mooks.
Writer David Goyer has stated that the film had no intentional connection to Occupy Wall Street. In fact, the story was first conceived in early 2010 (the first Occupy protest was in 2011) and the plot was based on A Tale of Two Cities and The French Revolution, as the eulogy at Bruce Wayne's funeral shows.
Also skewered by Jonathan Chait in the NYT:
What passes for a right-wing movie these days is The Dark Knight Rises, which submits the rather modest premise that, irritating though the rich may be, actually killing them and taking all their stuff might be excessive.
Whole Plot Reference: A balding, Death Seeker foreign mercenary-terrorist deemed extreme by his own group, who Feels No Pain after a rescue of a young girl gone wrong, comes out of the shadows after several years to wreck havoc either because he has been hired or to enact his revenge scheme against the heroes; in fact, he is working for / with the Love Interest of the hero, who was posing as an Honest Corporate Executive but is in fact a vengeful Diabolical Mastermind with daddy issues plotting to set off an atypical nuclear bomb in a major city - using a plot to revolutionise the fuel market as a cover. The hero must overcome a crippling injury (that actually doesn't bother him as much as it should) and team-up with another Love Interest (who gave him up to the vilains earlier, albeit because she didn't know the full story) to save the day. Is this the plot of The Dark Knight Rises, or the plot of The World Is Not Enough?
Why Would Anyone Take Her Back?: Selina Kyle betrays Bruce/Batman repeatedly, and through her actions he goes bankrupt and loses his seat at his own company. However, she did it for a clean slate (something he can empathize with) and the betrayals were out of fear of Bane. When it really counted, she stood by him and saved him from Bane.