NOTE: This post contains some spoilers for The Dark Knight Rises.
This is going to be short, but I think it's an interesting conversation to be had.
Christopher Nolan opens Batman Begins with a swarm of bats creating the symbol for what will soon become Batman. The Dark Knight begins with a burst of blue flame. The Dark Knight Rises begins with slow move in on ice as it cracks to pieces. What is the significance of all of this?
I can't really say I have any definitive answers but, from my perspective, the bats at the beginning of Batman Begins are clearly a sign of things to come, not really all that deep. The fire at the beginning of The Dark Knight could be considered a metaphor of any sorts for the chaos to be leveled against Gotham by The Joker, Alfred's quote -- "Some people just want to watch the world burn" -- being the most significant. But what about that ice?
It wasn't until just a few minutes ago that I finally came up with what I believe may be the answer and I think it may have actually serve as a sign of what's to come as well as a callback to Batman Begins.
Remember the lessons of Henry Ducard (aka Ra's al Ghul) played by Liam Neeson. Training on the ice, Bruce Wayne believes he's beaten Ducard when he says, "You haven't beaten me. You have sacrificed sure footing for a killing stroke." He taps the ice, it breaks beneath his feet and he falls in. The less, "Always mind your surroundings."
Later in the film, as Wayne manor is burning around him and he battles with Ra's al Ghul, Ra's says, "You never did learn to mind your surroundings." A burning piece of the architecture falls on Bruce, pinning him against the ground. Ra's leaves him for dead.
Then, one more time, as the train is crashing and Batman pins Ra's against the floor, Batman repeats the same phrase, "You never learned to mind your surroundings!" He's learned from his mistakes, but by the time we reach the events of The Dark Knight Rises the ground beneath Wayne is cracking once again. Even Hans Zimmer's second track on the score for the film is titled "On Thin Ice" and had he minded his surroundings perhaps he would have been more wary about who Miranda Tate actually was.
Late in the film there's a suggestion Batman/Bruce has learned. Crane has sent people into "exile" and their falling through the ice and yet, just as Gordon is sent he's met by Batman, standing on the ice... unafraid. But he still hasn't learned, it isn't until the very end, when another member of the al Ghul family is allowed to get close to him, presumably leaving him for dead. It's here his training comes full circle is able to, as the final track of Zimmer's score and the film's title suggests, "Rise".
I'm sure there is a meaningful quote in the film I'm forgetting, but that's my interpretation... Do you have one?