"It’s really all about finishing Batman and Bruce Wayne’s story. We left him in a very precarious place. Perhaps surprisingly for some people, our story picks up quite a bit later, eight years after The Dark Knight. So he’s an older Bruce Wayne; he’s not in a great state." -Christopher Nolan
For a long time people have been speculating when this film would take place, many believing that it was directly after the events of The Dark Knight and that the first scene would be the police pursuing Batman like the end of the previous film. Chris' comments here obviously can lay that speculation to rest.
Nolan also spoke about the upcoming prologue that will be playing before Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol in select IMAX theaters. He states that its the first six or seven minutes of the film, and that it will be an introduction to the character of Bane.
Bane is shaping up to be an incredible villain. Many people I know are concerned he won't be able to live up to Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight. Tom Hardy is more than a capable actor and Bane is the perfect villain to challenge Batman. Not only is he a physical challenge but Bane is also extremely intelligent, capable of tormenting Batman/Bruce psychologically. Hardy calls Bane "Brutal" and "incredibly clinical"
Also concerning Bane, Lindy Hemming The Dark Knight Rises' costume designer cleared up some speculation about Bane's mask...
He was injured early in his story. He’s suffering from pain and he needs gas to survive. He cannot survive the pain without the mask. The pipes from the mask go back along his jaw line and feed into the thing at the back where there are two canisters of what ever it is…the anesthetic. - Lindy Hemming
Below are a few official photos of Bane from the movie. The prologue as well as the first full length trailer will be appearing December 16.