- "Behind this wall is mankind's chance for survival. A glimpse at a future based on an amazing discovery. A discovery that will allow Gotham to rise like Lazarus, becoming a beacon of hope for this world. Are you intrigued? Then step closer. Witness the future of Gotham City. The heart of Gotham's future beats with Lazarus technology. The power of Lazarus is pumped into every street, every home, providing clean, safe energy. Mechanical Guardians will serve you, watch over you and where necessary, protect you from the worst of mankind's sins. Ladies and Gentlemen, allow us to present to you the future...Wonder City!"
- ―Ra's al Ghul[src]
Wonder City (also identified as Old Gotham) was an abandoned city that was located below North Gotham City which housed one of Ra's al Ghul's Lazarus Pits. It was an actual city while Ra's developed the Lazarus Pit. Ra's eventually returned to Wonder City to replenish himself from the pit and planned the events that took shape in Batman: Arkham City.
During the 19th Century (around 200 years before the events of Arkham City), Ra's stopped in what soon became Gotham City (a crime ridden location even back then) and eventually an unknown Lazarus Pit beneath the ground with plans to purge all criminals. However, Ra's eventually stumbled upon something much more intriguing; Solomon Grundy also known as Cyrus Gold, who was murdered and dumped in the Slaughter Swamp near the outskirts of Gotham. It appeared that the beast was created as a product of the strange chemicals that were in the swamp and the storm that raged the very same night that Cyrus was murdered. Ra's had Grundy captured and taken to his private medical chamber where he ruthlessly experimented on the monster to understand how he came back to life, well alive.
After he located the chemicals that revived Grundy, Ra's realized that the substance had amazing properties and was capable of rejuvenating a person even in death. It would seem that the electricity from the lightning from the storm that same night had amplified the chemicals and allowed Grundy to absorb its abilities. Ra's named that substance Lazarus. Ra's had plans to use it to not only keep himself alive for years, but to also use it as free, renewable energy for the people of Gotham.
However, Ra's feared that he would fall victim to the same fate as Grundy if precautions were not taken and, as a result, began to ruthlessly torture and electrify Grundy while he exposed him to Lazarus every time that he was killed to revive him. After he studied the results every time that Grundy was revived, Ra's altered the nature of Lazarus to suit his needs and eventually made the substance pure; all that was needed was enough exposure to electricity to make the pit a fountain of youth.
Ra's then approached Gotham City Hall and negotiated with them to obtain the deed for the city itself. While the council members found Ra's negotiations amusing and ridiculous in nature, they soon took him seriously when he showed them more gold than they had ever seen in their life from his old country.
Ra's was soon awarded the deed, immediately set to work, and commissioned a new project to eradicate crime in Gotham, which was Wonder City. After he imported slaves from his country, Ra's had them build that new city, brick by brick, while he developed robots from amazing technology that was way ahead of its time; they were known as the Wonder City Mechanical Guardians. With Wonder City completed, Ra's powered the foundations with the Lazarus chemical, and made it a seemingly safe and renewable source of energy.
However, while the residents of Wonder City celebrated Ra's as a genius and a hero, Wonder City was actually a front to cover a violent and sinister conspiracy that served Ra's megalomaniac desires. Behind the scenes, hundreds of criminals and even potentially innocent individuals were captured and violently murdered by the Wonder City Mechanical Guardians. In the meantime, Ra's had perfected the crown jewel of his city: Wonder Tower, which rose over the entire city as a monument of prosperity, but was actually part of Ra's experiment to test the Lazarus Pit.
Wonder Tower was actually a mechanism that was connected to the Lazarus Pit through a complex network of pipes, which attracted electricity during lightning storms, and amplified the chemicals of the Lazarus Pit, and allowed Ra's to recover from any physical injury. Upon that amazing discovery about Lazarus, Ra's kept depending on the pit. As Ra's continued to perfect that process, he failed to realize that long-term exposure to the pit lead to destabilizing side effects and that it drove the citizens of Wonder City insane.
Violence, crime, and riots erupted on the streets in a maddened fashion the likes of which Gotham had never seen before. Ra's refused to admit that his actions had caused the biggest crime wave in Gotham's history and did little to nothing to save his own city, and was completely blinded by his obsession with the Lazarus Pit. When Ra's failed to act, the newly instituted City Hall did and ordered for the police to shut down Wonder City, take all the residents straight to Arkham Island to be treated, and arrest Ra's.
As the troops went throughout the city, arresting all residents, Ra's vanished and abandoned his once prime utopia. Wonder City was almost completely destroyed from the raid and was shut down, with the new Gotham City constructed over it as the years went on. Grundy, in the meantime, was left broken, physically, emotionally, and mentally, from his continuous torture and hundreds of deaths at the hands of Ra's. When troops discovered the beast in Ra's medical chamber, he viciously murdered them all and waited in the chamber for Ra's to return to murder him again.
After Wonder City was shut down, Gotham City was built over it and the remains of Ra's former utopia was buried underneath. The Cyrus Pinkney Institute of Natural History was built over the medical chamber that contained Grundy and the Monarch Theatre was built over the Lazarus Pit.
Centuries later, Ra's returned to Gotham and developed a plan to finally purge the city of its criminals. Ra's used both Hugo Strange and Quincy Sharp, and had the City Council approve of the creation of Arkham City: a massive super prison where criminals would be permanently isolated from the rest of Gotham. In reality, Ra's and Strange plotted not to keep the residents of Arkham City imprisoned forever, but rather to destroy the city and kill all the inmates once most of Gotham's criminals had been rounded up. Strange constructed his base of operations for that plot, dubbed "Protocol 10", at Wonder Tower and operated the entire city from his control room in Wonder Tower's Security Control Center.
During the events of Arkham City, Batman went to Wonder City, after he followed a signal from one of Talia al Ghul's elite guards who was imprisoned at the Museum. Because of his failing health (due to a poisoned disease from The Joker), Batman went through the Demon Trials before he figured out Ra's plans for Arkham City. Batman discovered Ra's and Strange's plans after he was imprisoned in Arkham City and had decided to stop them. Strange managed to initiate Protocol 10 (which involved killing all the criminals and Political Prisoners of Arkham City with missile strikes that were launched from Wonder Tower and the TYGER Helicopters), but was thwarted when Batman infiltrated Wonder Tower and provided Oracle with a link to wirelessly call off the missile strikes.
After he saw that his plan had failed, Ra's revealed himself to Batman as the mastermind behind Arkham City and killed Strange for failing him by stabbing him in the back with his sword. A dying Strange proceeded to activate Protocol 11, which caused Wonder Tower to self-destruct. Both Batman and Ra's survived the explosion, however, Ra desperately attempted to kill Batman while he risked his own life by stabbing himself and Batman with his sword through his chest, only to fail when Batman pushed Ra away and missed piercing Batman in midair. The self-destruction of Wonder Tower left the ruined remains of Wonder City even more ruined and large portions of the city were buried under the rubble, and was forever shut off from the rest of the world.
Areas within Wonder City
- Collapsed Streets
- Wonder Tower Foundations
- Wonder Avenue
- Grimberg's Occult Store
- Muftic Barbershop
- Underhill & Davies Books
- The Tea Hut
- Wonder City Jewelry
- Billingham Butchers
- Adamson & Stjernberg Drugstore
- Furniture Store
- Fruit & Vegetables
- Ice Cream & Candy
- The Old Curiosity Shop
- Gentleman's Hats & Accessories
- Field & Sons Fire Whisky
- Gotham Perfumes
- Cloney Cobblers
- Wonder City Textile Manufacturing
- Crazy Clown Toys & Dolls
- Royal Flush Tobacco
- Wine & Spirit
- Secret Corridor
- Chamber of the Demon
- Wonder Tower
- Observation Deck
- The Wonder City Mechanical Guardians were deactivated by Batman, after he Scanned them to find the tracker's signal of Talia's guard. They were eventually reactivated by Harley Quinn during her revenge on Batman for Joker's death.
- In Batman: Arkham Origins, the prequel to both Arkham City and Arkham Asylum, Wonder City was not an explorable location in-game, but there were various signs around Gotham that referenced it. They were located at the GCPD Building and at the Wonder Tower Lobby.