With Marvel Enterprises (NYSE:MVL) stock taking a beating over the past few weeks, despite its successful joint project with Sony (NYSE:SNE) in Spider-Man2, plenty of suffering shareholders have been plastering Internet message boards with hopes for some kind of reaction from management.

Many will believe they got one this morning when the licensing powerhouse announced a $100 million share buyback program. Over an 18-month period, Marvel may repurchase shares, which, at today's prices, would account for a bit more than 5% of the company. Longs are cheering, shorts are trying to spin the news as some sign of desperation, but Foolish investors would do well to ignore most of the tumult and take the (real) long view.

What the program really means is that Marvel's cash-churning business model has matured to the point where decisions have to be made. As other Fools have noted, it's good to be Marvelous these days. Money keeps rolling in through licensing characters to the likes of Vivendi (NYSE:V), General Mills (NYSE:GIS), and other Motley Fool Stock Advisor picks Activision (NASDAQ:ATVI) and Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS). With long-term debt erased a few weeks back and an estimated $200 million in cash to be available by year-end, management has wisely decided to explore uses for that growing stash.

What are the options? Acquisitions? It's tough to imagine a synergistic property out there that can match Marvel's low risk and high profit margins. (Anyway, if one comes along, the share repurchase program can go on hold.) A dividend? Possible, but once that money's paid out, it's gone forever, whereas repurchased stock rewards existing shareholders with higher earnings, and it can always be used for other purposes. Don't get me wrong. I think a dividend is a great idea (and likely someday), but it may be a bit too soon for that.

Here's my idea: Until something better comes along, how about buying a stake in a solid, debt-free entertainment company with growing free cash flow and a 34% return on equity? How about buying it when it looks underappreciated by the Street? Sound good? That's exactly what Marvel decided to do today.

Want more Marvel?:

We all like dividends -- or at least we should -- but Mathew Emmert likes capital appreciation, too. See what he digs up this month in Motley Fool Income Investor.

Fool contributor Seth Jayson likes properly timed stock buybacks as much as properly timed cold beer. He owns shares of Marvel Enterprises but has no position in any other companies mentioned. View his Fool profile here.