Everyone knows who Catwoman is. I would even go so far as to say she's among the upper 5% of comicbook characters people can identify because she's had so many incarnations. If you're in your late teens or early 20's now you've probably seen Batman Returns and if you were alive for it I imagine you could recall how heavily it was promoted. Then there was the animated series, the second animated series, and the 3rd after Batman Begins came out along with the 60's Batman TV show which gained a new vitality in rerun heaven during the early 90's. That's several Catwoman renderings within a generation which doesn't even encompass the comics of which Catwoman has been prominent in for quite a while now. Though people like to assert women can't carry a title, it isn't at all true for Catwoman. She's had 3 whole volumes of comics within the past 20 years that enjoyed long, successful runs as well as countless figures and other merchandise.
Think about Halloween or, rather, Halloween parties over the years. How many times have you seen a woman dressed up as Catwoman? Almost every year you see at least one or two in your social sphere and beyond that there must be millions more because every year there is a whole catalog of options for Catwoman costumes practically. What this says to me is that women appear to heavily identify with Catwoman as an icon throughout varying degrees of awareness when it comes to the comics themselves. Devotees to comics only account for a fraction of the audiences that go out an see movies, it's get people outside the "cult" appeal that's crucial. Women hadn't been seeing superhero films for a while now but the Avengers welcomed in a much bigger female audience than initially expected and ended up being one of the highest grossing movies (and definitely the highest grossing superhero movie) as result.
This somewhat ties into my last point, think of how many different kinds of merchandise there is devoted to Catwoman out there. I've seen Catwoman binders, Catwoman notebooks, they had Catwoman shoes at one point, costumes (like I mentioned), I've even bought 4 different Catwoman figures within the past 3 years and I'm not a regular action figure consumer by any means. Catwoman's comic series is usually in the top 50-70 when it comes sales and appears to only grow rickety when the writing gets iffy. Catwoman was even given a significant role in the Arkham City game which is not the most accommodating platform for women in general.
The point I'm trying to make is that Catwoman is always being put out there again and again and again, this would not be happening were it not for the excitement her character is able to generate. It comes to a point where people are willing to shell out money to play as her in videogame, BE her for Halloween or a convention, buy her figures, buy a multitude of things with her likeness on it.
Anne Hathaway Is Awesome
While I know there are grumpy detractors, the overall impression after the release of Dark Knight Rises was that Anne Hathaway's performance was exceptional if not amazingly fantastic. In spite of tiresome questions of plot or whether or not it was as good as The Dark Knight, Anne Hathaway's performance fared extremely well and I was alarmed at the enthusiasm people had for it whom I've spoken with since. And from here it looks as though things will only get better for Anne Hathaway in terms of her broader appeal with Les Miserables just around the corner. Warner Bros also put in a submission for Anne Hathaway as best lead actress for the Oscars as well which I can't imagine will get through to a nomination but is an endorsement and vote of confidence nonetheless.
It Doesn't Have To Be A Sequel
Whenever the subject of a Catwoman movie comes up people say "But what's the point? Christian Bale won't do it" which could be very true. But I personally don't imagine there needs to be a sequel to the Dark Knight Rises for a Catwoman movie to happen, I actually wouldn't like it if that were to happen. I would like to see a prequel myself and in that case there wouldn't be any need for Bruce Wayne to be involved. Of course I imagine something of a smaller scale than the Batman films but then again, Catwoman doesn't really need very much CGI and doesn't really use a much technology as Bats so the budget could be considerably more conservative and still churn out a great product.
Another factor that always comes into play is Christopher Nolan and his involvement. Well, first of all, he was the one who coyly suggested that he hoped Hathaway's performance would "leave people wanting more" and, second of all, he has participated in projects like Superman as a consulting producer so simply because he wouldn't direct it doesn't mean he wouldn't want to have input. Furthermore, Anne Hathaway suggested she would do something if it remained in Nolan's "world" of Batman which didn't necessarily exclude the possibility, I think she was just trying to say she wouldn't want to go off on a tangent and have another goofy Catwoman movie. Not to mention, Jonathan Nolan did recently disclose he has a few DC investments in the pipeline....
Halle Berry Ain't Got Nothin' On It
Speaking of that other Catwoman movie, I've heard some say that if the Halle Berry movie didn't work then why would an Anne Hathaway movie work? Well, firstly, it preceded the Batman Begins and came out at a time when the superhero movie had yet to be more clearly defined. Spiderman had only just come out, same with the X-men movies and Batman was certainly not even on the radar given the Joel Schumacher debacle. But even more so, the liberties taken with the character along with it's questionable production value was the ultimate failing of the movie not Catwoman. To me, that's a very limited perspective to take, why should a studio's extremely poor decision-making result in the damnation of Catwoman?
It Has A Spectacular Lead In
In spite of however you might feel about the Nolan Batman films, they do have a level of credibility. Even looking past their financial appeal, Heath Ledger ended up winning an Oscar for his portrayal of the Joker which suggests to me that Batman definitely broke down many barriers when it came to what a superhero movie could be. Joss Whedon even said that Nolan and Raimi invented the superhero movie and that, despite The Dark Knight Rises' competition with the Avengers, he would gladly see it anyways. The support for Nolan and his re-imagining of the Batman series has been met with extraordinary success. And all you kool-aid drinkers looking for the next reboot can chill, it'll happen eventually. You can get ya excessive gadgets, boy wonder, and 3D/CGI when Warner Brothers pushes "The Batman" into production in 2016 or whatever.
Regardless, I would say the Nolan trilogy is a huge boost to the appeal of a Catwoman movie. The Catwoman we saw was not like Halle Berry's and this sort of spin-off would be nothing like Elektra (which sprung from a panned movie anyways), it has a draw that could be very effectively capitalized upon if done correctly. The acclaim Anne Hathaway's performance received and the continued interest Catwoman has garnered over the years is enough to substantiate a decent if not good or amazing movie.