In Iron Man 2, there is a scene where Tony Stark is at Stark HQ. He’s under supposed to be under perimeter lockdown at his house, after Nick Fury’s intervention. However, he's left his home to visit Pepper Potts in her office, and he’s brought her some strawberries, which she happens to be allergic to.

After a moment, "Natalie Rushman" AKA Natasha Romanov AKA Black Widow enters the room. When Pepper and Happy leave the room, Black Widow drops cover to talk to Tony.

After some other quips, he asks her:

Do you even speak Latin?

To which she responds in a foreign language, presumably Latin. He asks her what that means, and she responds with something along the lines of Tony can either leave on his own or she can have him taken out.

What does she actually say in these scene?

I'm looking for the original, untranslated foreign language its actual English translation or approximate translation.


2 Answers 2


I believe what she says is Fallaces sunt rerum species. This translates roughly as “the appearance of things is deceptive”, or more poetically, “appearances deceive”. A subtle reference to her cover, and a jab at Tony for assuming that she can’t speak Latin.

That line is a slightly tweaked form of Seneca, taken from De Beneficiis (On Benefits) IV.34.1:

“Multa,” inquit, “intervenient, propter quae et malus pro bono surrepat et bonus pro malo displiceat; fallaces enim sunt rerum species, quibus credidimus.” Quis negat ? Sed nihil aliud invenio, per quod cogitationem regam. His veritas mihi vestigiis sequenda est, certiora non habeo; haec ut quam diligentissime aestimem, operam dabo nec cito illis adsentiar.

According to some parts of the Internet, the line continues et hominum spes fallunt, or “and the hope of men [people] is deceived”. This would be a not-so-subtle way of telling Tony that she’s unlikely to fall for his charms, but as we can see, this has no basis in the original text. I’m not sure where the idea of this continuation came from.

  • 2
    The common phrasing is "Appearances can be deceiving". Do you think it was an attempt to translate this common phrase into Latin (and the more awkward wording is due to back-and-forth translating)?
    – user31178
    May 17, 2015 at 4:56
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    @CreationEdge The wording matches Seneca, so I’m inclined to believe the Internet and say it was chosen to match that (and not only does Widow speak Latin, she’s apparently well-read), not awkwardly translated.
    – alexwlchan
    May 17, 2015 at 5:22
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    @alexwlchan Credidimus is a past tense. May 17, 2015 at 15:13
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit Oh yeah, when I wrote that sentence, I was thinking of a different scene (before he knew she was a SHIELD agent). Tony is sexist, but that comment is unjustified. I’ll remove it.
    – alexwlchan
    May 17, 2015 at 20:06
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    I think that's a discussion best left for chat, or another question.
    – user31178
    May 18, 2015 at 1:45

According to the film's official novelisation, her line is as follows

And he asked the question that he thought someone probably had wanted to ask him that day. "How do you sleep at night?" he asked her. "Could you possibly be more duplicitous? You're a triple impostor. You're a black widow. Do you actually speak Latin?"

"Fallaces sunt rerum species" Natalie said.

Amazing, Tony thought. "What did you just say?" he said. "Did you cast a spell on me?"

Iron Man 2: A Novel by Alexander Irvine

As pointed out above, this is basically "appearances can be deceptive", doubling up as a nod to her being undercover as a smartie-pants lawyer but also being quite the smartie-pants in real life too.

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