My apologies to you all for this not being here last night. I was on my way back home, considering what to write in the column, when a co-worker stopped me in the elevator.

"Have you heard about Heath Ledger?"

"They just found him dead in his apartment in New York City."

I was stunned and speechless. This has to be a joke - maybe it's a marketing stunt gone terribly out of control. There's no way that Heath Ledger is dead. I called my wife, and the first words out of her mouth confirmed the news for me.

My wife and I have followed his career ever since he was on Fox's Roar. We loved him in 10 Things I Hate About You. We adored the anachronisms of A Knight's Tale. We cried alongside the pain of his family in The Patriot. We laughed at his misadventures in The Brothers Grimm. And we were in breathless anticipation of this summer and seeing his amazingly creepy take as the Joker in The Dark Knight.

Mr. Ledger will be missed. By his friends and family most, of course, but also by the countless millions who saw his movies and thought he was a very talented young actor. I wouldn't dream to say that our grief can possibly match that of those who knew him personally, and especially not compared to his daughter, Matilda, who will likely only remember her father by watching his films, but I do know that we will grieve.

Over the days and weeks to come, more information will be released about what exactly happened. And we here at MovieWeb and SuperheroFlix will keep you updated as that information is released. But for now, I can't help but think of other actors tied to superheroes that we also lost much too soon.

Now, I don't want to suggest that superhero films are inherently cursed, or anything ridiculous like that. Many actors have thrived since they have appeared in superhero movies. Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Ian McKellan, James Marsden, Famke Jamsen, Patrick Stewart, Toby Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Brandon Routh, Kevin Spacey and many, many others have certainly not suffered as a result of their relationship with the heroes and villains of modern comics.

But I will always wonder what future performances we have been denied from seeing due to the untimely deaths of Heath Ledger, Brandon Lee and Chris Reeve.

Come back in two weeks for another look at what's happening in superhero film and television that goes beyond the surface. Until then, "Excelsior!"

There are plenty of other actors who were lost to us far too early, including some tied in to superhero movies. Which ones left the deepest impression on you? Leave your thoughts on our forums! And if you have a topic you'd like to see explored here, leave an idea on the forum, or e-mail me at [email protected].