'Ally McBeal' producer to give Wonder Woman a modern makeover

The last time television viewers caught a glimpse of Wonder Woman, she was played by the 1970s screen siren Lynda Carter and spent the vast majority of her time, to quote the show's famous theme tune: "In satin tights, fighting for your rights, and the old red, white and blue."

Today's audiences expect more than just a snazzy outfit from their all-American superheroes, though. So for her return to the small screen, the Amazonian princess is to be placed in the hands of a high-profile TV producer who is credited with creating one of the best-known female leads of the 1990s.

It emerged at the weekend that Warner Brothers, who own the rights to Wonder Woman through their subsidiary DC Comics, have hired the creator of Ally McBeal, David E Kelley, to develop a new television series which will take a contemporary look at the 70-year-old crime-fighter.

Mr Kelley, who is married to Michelle Pfeiffer, the actress, is reportedly hoping to revamp a character who – perhaps inevitably, given her costume – has begun to look quaintly outmoded in the three-and-a-half decades since her programme disappeared from TV.

He'll have to tread carefully, though. In her day, Wonder Woman's ability to beat-up male adversaries struck a minor blow for sexual equality, so the heroine at the centre of the forthcoming revamp will have to be tough enough to find favour with the feminist lobby, in addition to all the usual, hard-to-please, comic book enthusiasts.

Mr Kelley is better placed than most to rise to that challenge, since as well as Ally McBeal – which centred on a quirky lawyer with a troubled love life and colourful imagination – his CV includes The Practice, and Boston Legal, which are both seen to have benefited from robust and three-dimensional female leads.

Warner Brothers have nonetheless refused to comment on plans for the series, which is still in the early stages of development, or to shed any light on whether today's Wonder Woman will retain her signature superpowers or weapons, which include the "lasso of truth," her "bracelets of victory," and her invisible aeroplane.

Neither will the firm reveal what Mr Kelley intends to do about Wonder Woman's costume. Since her debut in 1941, she has largely appeared in print in red-and-white go-go-boots, a gold-plated bustier, and the star-spangled blue shorts. However, earlier this year the comic's creators gave her a streetwise new look, involving figure-hugging black leather and latex.

News that a TV show is in the offing will almost certainly kill-off what remained of plans to release a new Wonder Woman movie. In 2005, Warners announced that Joss Whedon – the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – would be writing and directing the "reboot". But the film floundered in development and Mr Whedon quit two years later.

It will also, inevitably, kick-start speculation about who will step into Ms Carter's knee-high shoes. A host of stars, including Angelina Jolie, Beyoncé and Megan Fox, were linked with the role when a movie was still on the cards.