| > First off, what happens to the Joker? We see him getting arrested, but he had no problem escaping from jail earlier and he even tells Batman that they'll continue fighting until one of them kills the other. I think it'd be a terrible idea to have a new actor play him in the sequel, not to mention disrespectful to Heath Ledger's memory, so why does the movie imply that he'll be back?|
Batman saves Joker from falling to his death, promting Joker to say "You won't kill me because of your code, and I won't kill you because you're too much fun." Batman leaves the building, leaving Joker to be arrested (again).
I've heard that Nolan's original idea was to have Two-Face be the main villain for III, with the Joker as a background character. Obviously, all of that has changed with the final script and Heath's tragic death. I agree that it would be wrong to include Joker in III, but perhaps, if Nolan and co. return for a IV, they can agree on an actor to replace Heath.
| > Also, is Harvey Dent supposed to be dead, or will he be returning too? The fall he took didn't seem that bad, and Batman suffered no injuries at all from it. If he did die, it'd mean Batman finally killed someone, which completely goes against the theme of both movies. But if he didn't, how can Gordon possibly cover up his crimes if he's still alive and clearly insane?|
It looked to me that Harvey died. I don't know if you can blame Batman for it, as Harvey was threatening to kill Gordon's son. Batman may have been injured in the fall (he had difficulty running from the cops) but his armored suit absorbed most of the impact.
| > (I don't see what role he could have in a sequel anyway, he already confronted all the people he wanted revenge on and it'd be lame to bring him back as a random criminal like they did with the Scarecrow.)|
This is probably why the ending is so different from the rumored plot for III.
| > Also, Gordon says that Dent killed five people, but I only recall him shooting the old man and the limo driver. I guess Maroni could've died in the crash, but it doesn't seem likely if Dent could survive it with half his skin gone. And who was that old man anyway, what role did he have in Rachel's death?|
I think Harvey killed Maroni, the limo driver, and the crooked cop (old man in bar). He may have killed two cops guarding the Gordon house, I can't remember. The female cop was spared because the coin landed on the "good" side. Both she and her partner (old man in bar) were on the mob's payroll, and delivered Harvey and Rachel to the Mob when they were supposed to go into protective custody.
| > Finally, what was up with that scene where Batman and Rachel fall from a skyscraper onto a cab and get up just fine? Did I miss something where Batman did something to slow his fall, or did he somehow survive a 50+ story fall just by being Batman?|
Batman's cape acted as a parachute, and Batman was holding onto Rachel, so he took the impact of the fall.