I'm currently reading The Dark Knight Manual: Tools, Weapons, Vehicles and Documents From The Batcave. Cool book, written in the first person (Bruce Wayne) and there's a reference to the first five years as Batman.
This tells me that Batman operates for a few years before that year he spends going after the upper echelons of organized crime, the year the Joker refers to in TDK. That backs up a reference in TDKR about Bruce's "years" as Batman. The idea seems to be that Bruce was Batman for at least five years from BB to the events of the TDK. Also we don't know how long he operated as an outlaw after the events of TDK. In TDKR it merely makes a reference to eight years since the last confirmed sighting.
If you use the time between BB and TDK (2005-2008) then he could have been operative for three years and then maybe another two mostly out of sight. And so the eight year period mentioned in TDKR is still supported by the last confirmed sighting while he really ceased operations only six years before.
The natural assumption one gets from watching The Dark Knight
is that it takes place at most several months to a year after Batman Begins
, and I've read different production sources that quote either six, nine, or twelve months later. However, there are several pieces of evidence in favor of there being a gap of a few years between BB and TDK.
Evidence in favor of a multi-year gap between BB and TDK:
- In Begins
, the license plates have 2005 expiration dates on the registration stickers.
(you can't see the sticker on the truck pic, it's just there to show you what vehicle the license plate came from in the movie)
- In Dark Knight
, the license plates and other vehicle documentation say 2008.
(however, that could have just been them using stickers that corresponded to the real world dates the movies were made and released)
- Judge Surrillo's court documents in TDK also stated that the date of the RICO case brought by Dent and Dawes was in July, 2008. I don't have a picture of this, though it's in the Wiki:
According to court documents on Judge Surrillo's desk, Gotham City is located in the fictional US state of Gotham, a homage to New York, New York.
These documents also reveal that the RICO case was held on July 25, 2008, likely placing the film's events between the beginning of July and the end of August 2008, setting the events in the immediate present based on when the film was released.
- In Begins
, a blond haired toddler can be seen through the window of Gordon's home in a high chair being fed by his wife (identified as Barbara Gordon in the credits). By the time of The Dark Knight
, the child is much older (the actor playing him was ten years old, though if you stretch you could say the kid in BB was two or three and the one in TDK is five or six):
(the Batman wiki speculates that Barbara Gordon was just babysitting someone else's kid in the scene, though there were two children - a boy and a girl - who correspond with the two Gordon kids in TDK)
Either way, he's suffering from a bad case of Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome
because they probably wanted a kid who could be reasonably articulate and it would be even more messed up to have Harvey hold a gun on a toddler.
- A three year gap would be able to more easily explain how Wayne Enterprises changed towers completely, Wayne Manor was rebuilt from scratch with upgrades, and a new Bat Bunker in the city was dug out while repairs and upgrades to the Batcave were made.
Evidence against a multi-year gap between BB and TDK:
- The Joker tells the mob bosses at the summit:
"Let's wind the clocks back a year. These cops and lawyers wouldn't dare cross any of you. I mean, what happened? Did, did your balls drop off?"
The first time the police and DA's office had the guts to start taking down the mob was after Batman chained up Falcone red-handed on top of all the evidence in BB.
- Why does Bruce only realize he needs a more practical and flexible suit three years into his career as Batman?
- Why does it take three years for Batman to finally take the Joker seriously after Gordon asked him to look into it at the end of BB? Months or a year while he's rounding up the Arkham escapees, cleaning up the Narrows, and fighting the mob makes sense, but three years given Gordon's repeated insistence (in BB and TDK after the bank robbery) that Batman go after the Joker seems unlikely.
- Harvey Dent had three years left until reelection in TDK. Assuming a four year election cycle, that would put his initial election one year earlier, right after Begins
and would explain why he was familiar with Ramirez being a dirty cop from his recent time in Internal Affairs at GCPD, unless her mother was in the hospital for years and Maroni got to her several years ago (doubtful). Also, Gordon's anti-mob task force (which Dent investigated as a cop) was only set up after the capture of Falcone.
- The events of Batman: Gotham Knight
(set between BB and TDK) seem to imply that the Batman is still a relatively recent phenomenon that the police and public are not entirely sure about. Certainly not someone they've been working with or seeing for years. Also, none of these adventures is particular long, so it can easily fit within a year gap.