Solved: how to turn this from mere spectacle into an actual story – using elements already in the movie.
Tell the audience who Talia (Marion Cotillard) is at the beginning. Let everything play as it does – she’s present in the Wayne Enterprises meetings; she gets together with Bruce; her reveal toward the end – and suddenly there’s tension. Her getting together with Bruce would then be an interesting left turn – is she softening, changing, feeling conflicted? – which would then be answered in the final act. You’d know all along that Bane (Tom Hardy) was never the real villain, that he was an elaborate – and compelling – distraction. But even Bane is not a real character here: it’s never explained what power it is he has that compels so many to follow him so devotedly, to sacrifice so much for him – and that’s the only thing that makes him interesting. (And that voice. Jayzus. I was so excited for this movie and I was laughing out loud in the theatre after the first moment I heard him speak).
Nolan is not a story teller. He’s a conceptualist.
I can’t name one character in any of his movies that I actually like, much less care about. If it wasn’t for Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight, I doubt this film would have been as anticipated, much less praised. Christian Bale as neither Bruce or Batman is charismatic enough on his own – though to be fair, Nolan hasn’t really given Bale much of a character to work with throughout these movies – and the actor and director were far better paired in The Prestige).