If you have not yet seen The Dark Knight Rises, don’t feel bad. I haven’t either. This still has not stopped me from learning the biggest secret of the movie
Batman passes the cowl at the end of the movie to a police officer named John Blake. Specifically, his name is Robin John Blake. Get it? It ends with Robin taking over for Batman. There was a 'Robin' in the Christopher Nolan universe of Batman all along. Now wasn't that clever? Yeah, that is how it hit me initially as well. I started to sit down and think 'Hey, you know what would be the ultimate challenge? Find a way to make the idea of a 'Robin Trilogy' cool. As such, it took a couple of weeks to find that right angle on it.
I got the inspiration from a recent Batman storyline in which Bruce Wayne died. There was a storyline called 'Battle for the Cowl' in which the various people that could take over the Cowl came to Gotham City in what amounted to a single elimination tournament to determine who had the right to take over for Batman. Now, in the Nolanverse, there were eight years between the Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.
Bruce Wayne would have had a lot of secrets that cannot be uncovered simply by showing someone the Batcave. This would mean that there would have been instances where Batman may have solicited potential pretenders to the throne. Even those these people would not be known to Blake, they would be known to those who participated as well as Alfred. Those people would hear about Wayne and coming to claim what they felt was rightfully theirs
Ideally, you would see Robin John Blake as the hero as well as the eventual winner. This would mean that Dick Grayson would exist in the universe, but not as someone who aspired to take over the role of Batman. Grayson would come back to stately Wayne Manor in his Nightwing role. He would help the new Batman as well as be an advisor to Blake against the threats that Alfred and Grayson know will be coming.
During the Knightfall storyline, Jean Paul Valley took over the role of Batman. Valley eventually took on the role of Azrael, but the Order of St. Dumas as well as Valley would stil have a connection to Wayne in this universe. Naturally, they would want to install their own man as the Batman. The entry of the Order of St. Dumas as well as Valley would be enough to make Alfred decide to bring in Grayson to help Blake get through. It would seem to be a rather natural part one of the trilogy.
Ras Al' Ghul would have naturally taken an interest in a partner of Batman left for dead. Molding a former potential partner into a replacement Batman would have been a natural. In the comics, Jason Todd was closely related to the League after his 'death.' Naturally, Todd would be the one that they would want to see prowling the streets of Gotham as a personal vigilante.
The most emotional as well as the final chapter would be a challenge from some one that has no possibly sinister organization backing them. This challenger would be Tim Drake. Drake would have been specifically trained as well as essentially abandoned by Wayne. Drake would also be somewhat offended that all of the sudden Blake was seen as the successor when Drake had essentially trained his life for the role. Drake is a master martial artist and the emotion would come from the fact that Drake is not neccessarily wrong.
People come to Batman movies to see villains. As much as the Battle for the Cowl would be the over arching storyline, there would be villains looking to take advantage of the added pressures on Blake's life as well as test the new Batman. The new trilogy would involve a lot of clean up from what Batman had been doing for the last decade. Enough time would have now passed for the Joker to now have turned Dr. Harleen Quinzel in Arkham Asylum thoroughly into Harley Quinn.
Beyong that for the next couple movies, there is a literal plethora of choices. The Penguin as well as the Riddler would seem as naturals. However, the odd man out has always been Dr. Hugo Strange. Strange is one of Batman's oldest villains and would be an interesting counterpoint in a Jason Todd / League of Assassins storyline.
Blake's Batman would be pressured, behind the 8 ball, as well as constantly challenged by those who would take his position and those who would simply destroy him. Thus, Blake's path to truly being the Batman would be a different was well as (in some ways) more compelling one than Bruce Wayne's. Just a thought.