While it's human nature to compare and contrast, I think no one should be holding anyone's interpretation of the Joker on the big screen as if it were a contest. Like the Actors who played James Bond, there will be people who will always hold Ledger as their favorite in the same way people hold Connery as their definitive 007. Point I am making is we should appreciate the performances and understand that our world changes a lot faster now than ever before. We identify with Phoenix's work because it is actually very contemporary. However when Batman came out in 1989, Nicholson's portrayal was more celebrated than Keaton's Batman. Today Keaton gets a lot more respect for playing the caped crusader because that version of Batman still resonates while Nicholson's Joker does not. It just seems more cartoony and underdeveloped. Yet no one thinks Nicholson is not as gifted an Actor as Phoenix and no one should discount Leto's work when comparing it to Phoenix. He did the best he could with what he had to work with. A Joker sequel feels like it will undermine the original purpose for the movie's existence as well as lesson the mystique in Phoenix's performance. Sometimes less is more. If you made it to the end of this comment, thank you regardless if you agree or disagree and I will close by stating I should follow my own advice and not write an essay when people just want a comment and I agree. Less is more would have been ideal, but sometimes you just have do what you do and hope for the best. Thank you.
(The above was originally written in response to a YouTube video about Leto's Joker in the wake of Phoenix's portrayal.)