Having seen the movie 4 times in 4 days, something I planned to do in my anticipation despite the damage it did to my wallet, I have some thoughts I would like to discuss...
So most people I talk to seem to think definitively that Bruce Wayne lives on at the end of the movie. They see the explosion but then hear the lines about the auto pilot and the pearl necklace and see him in the cafe with Selina assuming he lived
While I don't disagree with this ending here is the thing, we also see clearly that Bruce is still piloting the Bat only about 5 seconds before explosion. They very specifically show the shot of him piloting it and then the timer, there is no place he could realistically drop out without being seen unless he does it in the smoke, so based on that it would seem he chooses to die despite having fixed the autopilot
I see the merit and agree with both endings being possible and making sense, the thing is, for either to be correct there has to be some editing trickery (here I mean trickery in a good way, an intelligent way that inspires interpretation and provokes thought)
So, Either the shot of Batman piloting the craft after the smoke from his blast is a time cut back to his face at the moment before the smoke making the decision to bail out
That shot is true and linear while the shot at the cafe is in fact the lie, Alfred sees Bruce with Selina based of the picture on the computer he saw earlier and he sees them in the exact situation he joked at earlier
In either case I think the ending is intentionally ambiguous so that fans and audience members can honestly justify it either way depending on the perception they bring to it
Does anyone else have any thoughts? Moreso does anyone have any theories on why so many people immediately think Nolan went with the straightforward happy ending of the faked death? It's not that I'm saying he didn't but it seems more like Nolan (especially post Inception) to craft a film for this legendary character with a truly unique and legendary ending, one that hasn't been done before (and faked deaths have been done, excuse the pun, to death)
Then further weight I would argue to the ambiguous ending is that Nolan loves dualities, especially in this series, so why not craft a dual ending?
Further he based the themes strongly on A Tale of Two Cities, which might seem to add weight to an original intent to have Bruce die... as the ending of the film has echoes from the final chapter of that book and directly quotes it, and the final chapter has the death of a major character as well as the title "The Footsteps Die Out Forever". However, the quote read by Gordon from that novel can have a dual meaning also, was it far better for Bruce to move on, or far better for him to give his life? I love that the film is so smartly crafted that it can open this type of discussion but find it odd that almost no one is having it as far as I can find