"People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can't do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man I'm flesh and blood. I can be ignored. I can be destroyed. But as a symbol ... as a symbol I can be incorruptible. I can be everlasting." -- Bruce Wayne, duh.
Batman can survive Nolan's version of Gotham City, because Batman has to survive Gotham City. But Bruce Wayne can't, doesn't and won't survive it. Bruce Wayne is just flesh and blood. He can and will be destroyed, because Nolan isn't telling a bunch of Batman and Bruce Wayne stories. Nolan is telling
Batman and Bruce Wayne story. In short:
"Bruce Wayne creates a symbol of fear and justice, Batman; Bruce Wayne becomes Batman; Batman just Batmans the f**k out of Gotham City; Batman becomes more of an ideal/symbol than a bat/man; Bruce Wayne dies; Batman lives on as others don the cowl." -- Me, hi!
That's the story we've been watching in this trilogy. Nolan has even recently said, "It's really all about finishing Batman and Bruce Wayne's story ... Perhaps surprisingly for some people, our story picks up quite a bit later, eight years after The Dark Knight."
No, that's not surprising at all. Eight years is enough time for Batman to solidify his place in Gotham as The Goddamn Batman. Eight years is enough time for Bruce Wayne to solidify Batman as the Legend of the Dark Knight we know. If I can briefly quote
(I can and am about to): "Heroes get remembered; legends never die." This Hero's Journey may end with the death of Bruce Wayne, but the Legend doesn't stop after that. When the Dark Knight falls, the Dark Knight must also rise ...