...Bruce has made a difference. Batman and his allies have saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives in Gotham. They literally brought Gotham City back from the dead during the No Man's Land crisis.
Yeah, sure, his mission to prevent any murders from ever happening again in Gotham is quixotic -- but so is the mission of any police department, to try to fight crime. You don't give up on something like that because it's impossible to completely solve; you keep doing it and make it your life's work.
That's true -- but Bruce could make a lot more difference fighting crime just by paying to put up streetlights and security cameras, funding an expansion of the police force, etc. Though I guess you could argue that as long as Gotham's government was corrupt, he couldn't be sure the money would be spent appropriately. And we do often hear about the Wayne Foundation's charity efforts. But they don't seem to make much of an impact on the state of Gotham, since the city needs to stay dark and dangerous so Batman can continue to have adventures every month.
I do find it amusing that if you view Burton and Schumacher's films as in continuity, its hilariously the most optimistic view of the character's work as it suggests his war on crime is working. The city really does seem much better from where it is is in Batman to B&R.
Well, Gotham in The Dark Knight
has definitely improved since Batman Begins
, with more law and order, more hope among the public, etc. Once Batman and Harvey brought down the gangs, the city was in the best state it had been in since Bruce's boyhood -- until the Joker came in and waged his anarchic campaign to tear down all the stability Batman and Harvey had created.
But yeah, I guess I kind of see your point. Certainly between Returns
there must've been one hell of an architecture boom, with an emphasis on gigantic Art Deco statues and neon lighting.
Although if they are in continuity, that does leave the question of how Harvey Dent turned from a suave African-American into a craggy-faced Caucasian.