Christopher Nolan has a thing for ending his summer blockbusters on a cliffhanger. 2010's "Inception" closed on a spinning top, which may or may not signify that the film's happy ending happened inside the mind of Leonardo DiCaprio's Dom Cobb. (It was probably real, says co-star Michael Caine.) There was no top at the end of "The Dark Knight Rises," but for some the denouement was equally opaque. Spoilers ahead.
After being presumed dead in a nuclear explosion, Bruce Wayne gets spotted in Italy with Selena Kyle by his trusty butler Alfred. The two exchange nods, a callback to a fantasy Alfred told Bruce he had earlier in the film. The sequence could be read as a dream or an acknowledgement for fans that Bruce did escape the explosion thanks to the fixed autopilot function on his flying transport of choice, The Bat.
So, what really happened at the end of "The Dark Knight Rises"? Keep speculating, since co-screenwriter Jonathan Nolan isn't saying squat.
“This goes back to a conversation that I had with my brother many, many years ago when he first took his film 'Memento' to the Venice Film Festival," Nolan, Christopher's brother, told IGN. "We were having dinner afterwards with the cast and crew and [...] realized after a few drinks that everyone there -- the stars, the producers, me, my brother, everyone else -- had a different interpretation of what that film meant. If you get to that place where people are passionate about it and arguing about what the end of your film means, that's great. Who am I to put my opinion into the mix?"
Well, the screenwriter. But, hey ...
For more on Nolan, including why Robin was sneakily introduced in "The Dark Knight Rises," head over to IGN.