This is a non-spoiler article, unless you want to go into the film absolutely pristine. If you're looking for answers to the burning questions of The Dark Knight Rises, or even any plot points, you're in the wrong place.
The Dark Knight Rises was a complex movie, with a ton of references made to the previous Nolan movies. It makes sorting out what counts as a spoiler and what doesn't a lot harder, but there are certain things that are just...interesting.
Not instructive or illuminating or anything of the sort, but cool, little things clearly thrown in there to reward the person who's paying attention, enough of a geek to hear it just right, or just in the right headspace at the moment it happens. They're mostly blink-and-you-miss it stuff, so...for those who blinked...
The caterer's name was "Chill."
If you listen carefully, you'll notice that the caterer who comes to the Wayne Foundation charity event (the one where the viewer is first introduced to Selina Kyle), appears to be related to the killer of Bruce Wayne's parents.
When Alfred comes to express his concerns to the caterer about his employees not doing as they're told, he calls the man "Mister Chill." That's as in Joe Chill, the mugger who killed the Wayne family in the alley, as seen in Batman Begins.
Is it a coincidence? It seems unlikely--yet what seems even less likely is that Bruce Wayne would feel particularly comfortable with a member of that family hanging out in Wayne Manor!
This one's pretty obvious to most people who know anything about sports, but it should be said, just so it's out there. Hines Ward plays himself in the film, but he's also not the only professional football player who's out there playing football on the field while Gotham burns. Nope, according to IMDb, a number of Ward's teammates from the Pittsburgh Steelers can be found in the scene--although obviously it's only Ward who gets any substantial amount of screentime or, well, appears to make it to the end zone.
And while we're at it, this seems an opportune time to remind you that one of the thousands of extras used in the scene appears to have decided to have a little fun with the studio and, celebrating the Gotham Rogues, made a big "R" poster to hold up in the audience. That R, though, is the same one used by Tim Drake on his Robin costume in the comics.
Bruce's Family Photos
If you paid attention, it wasn't hard to see, but Rachel Dawes, whose photograph appears in Wayne Manor in this house, is of the Maggie Gyllenhaal variety, as seen in The Dark Knight. While unconfirmed, rumors have long held that Katie Holmes was not invited back to reprise the role because her splashy appearance on the Batman Begins red carpet with then-new beau Tom Cruise had upstaged the film and created an unwanted media circus. That filmmakers couldn't work around the actress' pregnancy seems to be the official line, but they did it for Marion Cotillard, who hadn't yet been established as part of the series, when Nolan was determined to have her play Miranda Tate.
Given a choice between the two actresses, that Nolan chose to use Gyllenhaal is arguably telling.
What's definitely a little callback to the previous films is Bruce's family photo--depicting a young Bruce and his parents--which is in pieces and charred inside the picture frame when it's seen in the film. Wayne Manor, of course, was burned to the ground at the end of Batman Begins, and in the reconstituted house, that photo is the only clear reminder we get of the film's finale.
There's a point in the film where, in response to something he finds hard to believe, Deputy Commissioner Foley sarcastically asks another character whether s/he saw "giant alligators in the sewer."
While sharks, gators and other such critters in the sewer are a staple of urban legend and referenced in film and TV often, sometimes with tongue in cheek and sometimes not, this time around it's worth taking a second to chuckle at since Batman actually has an enemy who is the humanoid, incredibly dangerous embodiment of the trope: Killer Croc!
Remember that moment, from one of the trailers, when a veteran cop tells a rookie to "sit back, you're in for a show?" That's a wink-and-a-nod moment to a very similar scene from The Dark Knight Returns, a story which features (like The Dark Knight Rises) a Batman resurgent after years of retirement.
(Thanks to reader Matt Oldham for setting me straight on my Frank Miller stories. It's been years since I read one!)