(Originally posted as a comment at Doug’s place, but I thought worth keeping for posterity!)
One of the rules of thumb for comics writers taking on one of the main established characters – eg Grant Morrison’s recent stuff – is that ‘do what you like but leave it how you found it’, in other words, you can have all sorts of fun taking the characters different places, and thereby exploring the character itself, but you have to leave it in a fit state for the next writer or user.
I have two suspicions about what Nolan is going to do with his final Batfilm:
1. the ‘rises’ bit is going to be a ‘resurrection’, ie Bane will do the Bane thing and defeat Batman. This will have the effect of bringing Gotham to its senses and realising that it does actually _want_ Batman – remember the ending of Dark Knight has Batman as a fugitive. So Batman will come back in the last third of the film, beat Bane, and the new status quo will be the ‘normal’ Batman universe.
2. Building on that, Nolan is going to put in place several ‘seeds’ which other people can take forward. So Hathaway is Selina Kyle, Gordon-Levitt is a proto-Robin, but I would guess we see neither in costume in the next film, there will just be lots of geek intimations for you and me to enjoy ;o) Could be completely wrong of course.