Box office heroes don't come around every day. At this point, few would dispute that Sony (NYSE:SNE) and Marvel Enterprises (NYSE:MVL) have found one in Spider-Man 2.Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) is doubtless hoping that its "Catwoman" can join the web slinger's ranks when it debuts next week.

The media conglomerate has been heavily promoting the movie, which reportedly cost $100 million to make. Catwoman, played by a scantily clad Halle Berry, is less well known than Spider-Man, so it's somewhat understandable that Time Warner is taking no chances. But the company is also using a tactic that could be interpreted as borderline desperate, by giving away free tickets to the film with the purchase of selected Warner Bros. home video and DVD offerings.

It's puzzling that Time Warner would green-light a movie about this rather obscure character. Marvel has had the greatest success when it turned its most popular costumed crusaders, Spider-Man and the X-Men, into cinematic spectacles. Time Warner's Warner Bros. division owns the rights to several superheroes that are equally well known. Some of them may even have a broader appeal than their Marvel counterparts, since older folks know them through comic books and younger kids have seen them in newer cartoons.

Thankfully, films centered on these better-known properties are in the works. Warner Bros. is reviving its initially successful Batman franchise with a movie that is set for release in June 2005. Unfortunately, a long-proposed new Superman movie was dealt a blow recently when its director quit the project. But beyond these famous workhorses there are plenty of other imaginary men and women in tights who could rack up big box-office dollars. It's up to Time Warner to find a way to help them save the day.

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Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer in Chicago. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.