'Captain America: The Winter Soldier': New concept art shows battle between friends turned foes -- EXCLUSIVE

The first time moviegoers met James “Bucky” Barnes he was saving puny Steve Rogers from a beat-down by a thug in an alley.

Now he’s the one throwing the punches at his old pal.

Each year, Marvel Studios teases one of its upcoming films by debuting some concept art a week before Comic-Con, so this time we’re treated to an artist’s rendering of an epic battle scene between the two title characters of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Although 2011’s Captain America: The First Avengers was largely set during World War II, the sequel picks up in the present day after the events depicted in The Avengers. The super-soldier Rogers (Chris Evans) is still adjusting to modern life after being frozen in stasis for decades. Everyone he knows is gone.

Almost.

The last time he saw Bucky (played by Sebastian Stan), his old friend was plunging off the side of a train into a frozen wasteland — almost certainly dead.

Again, almost.

Readers of comic scribe Ed Brubaker’s 2004-2012 run on the Captain America comic book series know that after many years on the deceased list, Bucky was resurrected as another bio-engineered super-soldier, this one brainwashed as working as an assassin.

Bucky return unscathed. His destroyed arm had been rebuilt as a bionic limb, seen here putting the hurt on Cap’s vibranium shield.

If history holds, Marvel Studio’s Comic-Con panel will likely bring a Hall H preview of footage from the new film, which is still in the midst of shooting. But that footage probably won’t be available to the general public until a few months later.

This illustration by Ryan Meinerding, who kills it on a regular basis with his superheroic concept drawings (including Marvel’s Iron Man 3 reveal last Comic-Con) might be our closest thing to a look at the showdown between Cap and his old friend/new nemesis.

We’ve already gotten a few glimpses at concept art for the film, including this image of Rogers out of uniform taking a hit from the Winter Soldier in his mask, and then there was this image of the Winter Soldier drawing Cap’s shield toward his bionic arm.

What sets this apart is the scale. (Click the image to expand to a fuller shot.) There’s Anthony Mackie’s Falcon swooping by, firing twin guns behind him, and a full-on war raging on air and land with a handful of other soldiers in the background and sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.

The film also stars Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Robert Redford as S.H.I.E.L.D. consultant Alexander Pierce, Frank Grillo as the mercenary Crossbones, Hayley Atwell as ’40s-flashback love-interest Peggy Carter, Emily VanCamp as “Agent 13,” Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, and Maximiliano Hernández as Agent Jasper Sitwell.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier is due in theaters April 4, 2014.

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